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New updates made to total Sewol figures

May 09,2014
The Korea Coast Guard has officially changed the number of survivors in the Sewol ferry accident to 172 from 174, and the number of missing to 35 from 33. The revision was announced Wednesday at a briefing. The Coast Guard kept the total number of passengers at 476.

The Coast Guard added that the number of survivors had decreased by two since it found out on April 21 that one passenger had been registered twice under an alternate name, while a second passenger had misinformed authorities about a travel companion. The total number of missing was also increased by two when authorities discovered on April 23 that there had been two Chinese passengers on board who were not registered on the official list. Officials made the discovery after checking their credit card records.

But even though the Coast Guard knew since last month that the number of survivors had decreased to 172, and that two more were reported missing, those facts were not disclosed until Wednesday. Yet critics have argued that the figures are still not correct, as the two Chinese passengers added to the number of the missing were found dead on April 21 and 23.

The figures that were reported to the public had not changed until Wednesday’s briefing. When asked why they were not aware of the exact number of the missing, Kim Suk-kyoon, the head of the Korea Coast Guard, explained, “We haven’t officially announced the number of the missing, only the total number of passengers, survivors and those who died in the accident.”

Kim could not deny that the number of survivors has been inaccurate and apologized for the confusion.

“We could not disclose the changes immediately because the numbers may change again in the future,” Sun Gil-tae, the head of criminal department of the Coast Guard, said yesterday. “There have been problems because we announced numbers that were not verified. We ... needed time to verify [those numbers] because otherwise it might have caused even more confusion.”

Since Wednesday’s announcement, the total number of survivors stands at 172, which brings the number of missing and deceased passengers to 304.

BY KIM BONG-MOON and CHOI JONG-KWON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]





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