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South Korean PM resigns over ferry disaster response

27 April 2014 02:00 am - 31     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


South Korea's prime minister announced his resignation Sunday morning, taking responsibility for the slow initial response to a ferry's sinking that has left nearly 200 dead with scores more still missing.
Prime Minister Chung Hong-won outlined his decision, and apologized to victims' families, in remarks on national television.
"During the search process, the government took inadequate measures and disappointed the public," Chung said. "I should take responsibility for everything as the prime minister, but the government can assume no more. So I will resign as prime minister."
He becomes the highest-profile public figure so far to lose his job in light of the April 16 disaster and the subsequent response, both of which have elicited considerable sorrow and anger from the South Korean public.
Ten days later, searchers are still looking for passengers and crew aboard the Sewol ferry. They have retrieved 187 bodies so far, with another 115 still missing.
On Friday alone, they found the bodies of 48 girls -- wearing their life jackets -- pressed into a room too small for so many people.
Divers believe that they will face the same scene again. There may be a second, similar room, where 50 more girls are believed to have been trapped when the ferry rolled over.
South Korean coast guard diver Kim Dong-soo said he had tears in his eyes when he heard about the accident.
"Even now, I'm searching as if I'm looking for my own children -- and other coast guards feel the same way," he told CNN. "I have two medical patches on me, have difficulty breathing and my head hurts. But it hurts the most in my heart, knowing those children are still in the cold water."
Those still diving face a search that is getting harder and slower.
Now they will head down deep for cabins near the seabed.
In the cramped spaces, divers have been battling a forest of floating objects and doors forced shut by tremendous water pressure. Currents tug at the breathing tubes that keep them alive as they look for the dead.
There may be fewer bodies to retrieve, but divers have already searched the easily accessible places, said South Korean navy Capt. Kim Jin-hwang, commander of the rescue operation.
"But the navy will not stop until the last body is found," he said.
Fisherman: Disaster haunts his sleep
Fisherman Kim Hyun-ho finds no peace when he lies down at night. The hundreds of dead or missing passengers from the Sewol ferry disaster haunt his sleep.
Their screams ring in his head. He has vivid memories of his rush to save them in his modest fishing boat off South Korea's coast 10 days ago.
Kim thinks he may have pulled 25 people from the frigid waters of the Yellow Sea, he said Saturday. But the man from a nearby tiny island of just 100 people feels no pride, only torment.
"It was hell. Agonizing. There were a lot of people and not enough boats, people in the water yelling for help. The ferry was sinking fast," he said.
He watched people trapped inside go under with the vessel yards in front of him. Then he heard on television how many people were sealed up in the ship.
The father of two grown children is heartbroken for the hundreds of parents who have lost theirs, those he could not save.
He's trying to fish again, but he's a changed man, he says.
Legal ramifications
As the effort inside the ship continues, South Korean authorities are pressing a criminal investigation into the sinking.
It's resulted in the arrests of the ship's captain and 14 other members. Prosecutors in Mokpo, South Korea, who are leading the ferry investigation tell CNN that all the 15 crew members in charge of sailing and the engine room have been indicted and are being held in the Mokpo Prison.
Yang Joong-Jin, the senior prosecutor for the investigation task force, said they all face charges of "causing death by abandoning (ship), and violation of the country's marine law, the Rescue and Aid at Sea and in the River Act.
Investigators also searched the company that owned the ferry and the home of the man whose family controls it, and conducted a wide-ranging probe into the country's marine industry.
Prosecutors have said that authorities have yet to determine what caused the sinking.
Leading theories include changes made to increase the ferry's passenger capacity, and shifting cargo.
On Friday, investigators checked out the Sewol's sister ship, the Ohamana, and said they found 40 of its life rafts weren't working, emergency slides to help evacuate passengers were inoperable, and equipment to tie down cars and cargo either was nonexistent or didn't work very well.
Like the Sewol, the Ohamana had been modified to add more passengers, the prosecutor's office said.
Investigators are looking into whether those modifications could have contributed to the Sewol's fate.
Kim Yong-rok, an opposition lawmaker who represents Jindo, an island near where the ship sank, told CNN that modifications to add 117 more passenger cabins to the ship raised the ferry's center of gravity.
On Friday, the South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced it would ask lawmakers to consider legislation prohibiting modifications to ships to increase passenger capacity.(CNN)

  Comments - 31

  • Viewer Sunday, 27 April 2014 06:33 AM

    SL papers, please copy.

    WASEEM Monday, 28 April 2014 07:36 AM

    I salute you sir. Surely, S Korea would miss u. This is good example to our politician.

    Kaduthuda Sunday, 27 April 2014 05:53 PM

    Only people with self respect resign on a matter like this.

    mithra Sunday, 27 April 2014 04:01 PM

    Before resigning Korean PM should have consulted his counterpart in Sri Lanka for advice.

    mack Sunday, 27 April 2014 07:42 PM

    can we this kind of resignation from our superministers??? via DM Android App

    geo Sunday, 27 April 2014 07:35 PM

    They came to serve the people.....but our politicians came to fill their pockets... via DM Android App

    Ali Sunday, 27 April 2014 07:31 PM

    Ha Mr. Ranil out is that............ via DM Android App

    idroos Sunday, 27 April 2014 10:50 AM

    No No this only a drama

    Ceylonese Sunday, 27 April 2014 04:00 PM

    Problem is SL do not have politicians. via DM Android App

    citizen Sunday, 27 April 2014 10:05 AM

    Must tell this to RANIL.......................

    chand. Sunday, 27 April 2014 01:33 PM

    dont immitate,then who runs the country. via DM Android App

    Rajsah Sunday, 27 April 2014 07:40 AM

    He should have set up a committee instead:) to investigate and report to a parliamentary committee and then set up another committee to rehabitilate the traumatised parents and reconcile with them

    king Sunday, 27 April 2014 07:15 AM

    sri lankan pm still not resign even after involve with south asia's largest narcotic container.

    Perumal Sunday, 27 April 2014 06:54 AM

    Don't follow that example. It will create a bad precedent for the president!

    CROW Sunday, 27 April 2014 06:36 AM


    been Sunday, 27 April 2014 12:05 PM

    just like in sir lanka via DM Android App

    De Silva Sunday, 27 April 2014 02:13 AM

    He has shown the world what Democracy is.This is a lesson for our politicians also.

    Concerned Sunday, 27 April 2014 06:12 AM

    "Lankawe ehema wenne naaaaaaaaaaaaaaa"

    SOIL Sunday, 27 April 2014 06:04 AM

    Where our minister is imported millions of dollars worth of narcotics? That MF should be in jail but still sitting in minister position, he disgust me and my county

    Puravesia Sunday, 27 April 2014 11:15 AM

    Men of principles these S.Korean politicians are. Hats off. If on these same lines our ministers had resigned more than half the cabinet wouldn't be there in the Parliament. via DM iPad app

    irvin br Sunday, 27 April 2014 10:43 AM

    Sri lanken politicions must get some lessons by these incident. via DM Android App

    nl Sunday, 27 April 2014 10:37 AM

    We will step down ferry owner via DM Android App

    AW Abdulksny Sunday, 27 April 2014 09:43 AM

    Man with guts. Waiting for the resignation of Malaysian Prime Minister. via DM Android App

    len Sunday, 27 April 2014 03:12 AM

    Is their a lesson in this for Sri Lankan MR.

    ANTON Sunday, 27 April 2014 03:07 AM


    One Sunday, 27 April 2014 08:25 AM

    our PM didnt even turn out to the media when he was accused for importing drugs and non is responsible so far via DM Android App

    Public Sunday, 27 April 2014 08:22 AM

    Will it be taken as an example by our politicians and put in practice?

    Manthreethuma Sunday, 27 April 2014 08:11 AM

    This clearly shows values upheld by parliamentarians in Korea. If our ministers too had followed these principles half the cabinet would have been shown the doors. Merves, Dumindas, Laundryman. Wansaya etc would have been history. via DM iPad app

    Shaggy Sunday, 27 April 2014 02:37 AM

    In Sri Lanka even if the whole country sinks no politician will resign.

    weera Sunday, 27 April 2014 02:35 AM

    Our politicians will say " He is stupid to resign".

    Shaggy Sunday, 27 April 2014 02:23 AM

    thi is an good example for politicians in the under developed countries.

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