‘Se­wol’ wreck to be loaded to ves­sel

New Straits Times - - World -

SEOUL: South Korean ef­forts to bring a sunken, 6,800-tonne ferry back to land cleared an ob­sta­cle yes­ter­day af­ter divers cut off a ve­hi­cle ramp that had been dan­gling from the ship and hin­der­ing ef­forts to raise it.

Re­mov­ing the ramp al­lowed work­ers to raise the ferry to a height where it can be loaded onto a semi-sub­mersible trans­port ves­sel to be sent to a port.

More than 300 peo­ple — most of whom were stu­dents on a high school trip — died when the Se­wol sank on April 16, 2014, touch­ing off an out­pour­ing of na­tional grief and soul-search­ing about long-ig­nored public safety and reg­u­la­tory fail­ures.

Public ou­trage over what was seen as a botched res­cue job by the gov­ern­ment con­trib­uted to the re­cent ouster of Park Ge­unhye as pres­i­dent.

Sal­vage crews raised the Se­wol un­til its up­per side was about 13m above the wa­ter’s sur­face so that they could load it onto the trans­port ves­sel about 3km away.

Work­ers plan to com­plete load­ing the ferry by mid­night yes­ter­day.

Work­ers on two barges be­gan the sal­vaging op­er­a­tion on Wed­nes­day night, rolling up 66 ca­bles con­nected to a frame of me­tal beams divers spent months plac­ing be­neath the ferry.

The bod­ies of 295 pas­sen­gers were re­cov­ered af­ter the sink­ing, but nine are still miss­ing.

Rel­a­tives, some of whom were watch­ing from two fish­ing boats just out­side the op­er­a­tion area, hope those re­mains will be found in­side the ferry.

Some cried as they watched the emerg­ing wreck­age with tele­scopes.

Once the Se­wol is loaded onto the trans­port ves­sel, it will take about two weeks for it to reach a port 90km away in the city of Mokpo.

Work­ers will then be­gin clearing mud and search for the re­mains of miss­ing vic­tims.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion com­mit­tee will also search for clues that could fur­ther ex­plain the cause of the sink­ing, which has been blamed on over­loaded cargo, im­proper stor­age and other neg­li­gence.

AFP PIC

Work­ers sal­vaging the wreck of the ‘Se­wol’ ferry, off the coast of South Korea’s south­ern is­land of Jindo yes­ter­day.

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