South Korea Wreckage Causes Heartbreaks


Provided by South China Morning Post

Two Coastal Guard rescue teams head for the capsized South Korean ferry in frigid waters, hoping to find survivors.

One hundred and two years ago, one of the most famous ships in existence, and at the time, the largest passenger vessel ever built, sank within two hours of making direct contact with an iceberg.  A large part of the rescue effort was in vain, as poor preparation and faulty coordination resulted in 68 percent of the passengers on board being lost to ship wreckage.

Now, even after over a century of advances in technology and safety, a tragedy which draws eerie comparisons to the sinking of the RMS Titanic has stricken our society on the 102nd anniversary of the Titanic disaster.  Although exponentially smaller in size, the South Korean ferry shipwreck on April 15, 2014 is nonetheless heart-wrenching than its enormous predecessor.

The ferry — which makes the same trip from Incheon to Jeju Island twice every week — hit an unspecified projectile, rapidly began to tilt, and sunk within three hours of contact.

“The students were falling over and crashing into things and bleeding,” said a surviving passenger named Lim Hyung Min to South Korean CNN affiliate group Your True Network (YTN).  Lim said he had to swim in “unbearably cold” waters for a while before getting picked up by a rescue boat.

Of the 475 people originally onboard (325 of which were high school students), nine are confirmed dead and 287 are still missing.  This puts the percentage unaccounted for at 62 percent.

Surviving passengers said that all passengers were forced by crew members to stay put in their seats.  

A voice can be heard in a  recording obtained by YTN commanding, “Don’t move. If you move, it’s dangerous. Don’t move.”

The 179 rescued acted against orders in efforts to find a way out while the 287 still trapped in the ship did as they were told.

Lee Joon Suk, the captain of the ferry, is facing possible charges of negligence and accidental homicide.  All he could offer family members of victims were his condolences and statements that he was “at a loss of words.”

This tragic accident has stirred the emotions of the world.  Especially stomach-churning are the recently viral screenshots of the texts of several high school students onboard sending their mothers their final “I love you’s” and others crying out to their fathers to send help.

“I heard about [the South Korean shipwreck] in the morning [on Wednesday] from my mom who had been crying, and as soon as I heard it, I found tears in my eyes too,” said West Ranch sophomore Claudia Lee.  “I have cousins in South Korea who are the same age and I just can’t help but wonder what if I or one of my cousins had been one of the kids there.”

Others from Santa Clarita among those mourning around the world took to social media to offer their sympathies for the South Korean victims and their families.  

“My thoughts go out to South Korea,” read one tweet from Valencia sophomore Tori Alandy while Saugus senior Isabella Ra tweeted the hashtag #PrayForSouthKorea to signify her support.

The rescue teams are still putting in maximum effort to find survivors, but as the ship operator’s crew and executive officers apologize, many fear that it may be too late.