South Korean PM re­signs over ferry ac­ci­dent

Daily Trust - - WORLD - Hong-won said res­ig­na­tion was “the right thing to do.”

South Korean Prime Min­is­ter Chung Hong-won has re­signed amid crit­i­cism of the govern­ment’s han­dling of the sink­ing of a pas­sen­ger ferry.

He said the “cries of the fam­i­lies of those miss­ing still keep me up at night”. Mr Chung will stay in his post un­til the dis­as­ter is un­der con­trol.

The Se­wol ferry with 476 people aboard - most of them stu­dents and teach­ers - sank off South Korea on 16 April.

Of­fi­cials have con­firmed 187 died, but scores are miss­ing pre­sumed drowned.

Fu­ri­ous rel­a­tives have re­peat­edly crit­i­cised what they see as the slow­ness of the re­cov­ery oper­a­tion.

“The right thing for me to do is to take re­spon­si­bil­ity and re­sign as a per­son who is in charge of the cab­i­net,” Mr Chung said in a brief tele­vised state­ment.

“On be­half of the govern­ment, I apol­o­gise for many prob­lems from the preven­tion of the ac­ci­dent to the early han­dling of the dis­as­ter.”

He added: “There have been so many va­ri­eties of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties that have con­tin­ued in ev­ery cor­ner of our so­ci­ety and prac­tices that have gone wrong. I hope these deep-rooted evils get cor­rected this time and this kind of ac­ci­dent never hap­pens again.”

Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye ac­cepted her prime min­is­ter’s res­ig­na­tion but did not set a last day in of­fice. The PM would leave his post once the ferry dis­as­ter was un­der con­trol, South Korean news agency Yon­hap re­ported.

An op­po­si­tion party spokesman de­scribed it as “thor­oughly ir­re­spon­si­ble” and a “cow­ardly eva­sion” of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The day af­ter the dis­as­ter, Mr Chung was booed and some­one threw a wa­ter bot­tle at him when he vis­ited griev­ing par­ents.

Divers were bat­tling atro­cious weather con­di­tions on Sun­day as they tried to re­trieve more bod­ies trapped in the sunken ferry.

A coast­guard spokesman said heavy seas whipped up by strong winds were badly com­pli­cat­ing re­cov­ery ef­forts.

“The sit­u­a­tion is very dif­fi­cult due to the weather, but we are con­tin­u­ing search ef­forts, us­ing the oc­ca­sional calmer pe­ri­ods,” the spokesman said, adding that 93 divers would take part in Sun­day’s oper­a­tion.

All 15 crew mem­bers in­volved in the nav­i­ga­tion of the ferry are now in cus­tody, fac­ing crim­i­nal neg­li­gence charges.

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