Sewol relatives consider ship salvage

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Sewol relatives consider ship salvage


Relatives of the 10 Sewol ferry victims still unaccounted for have begun to discuss salvaging the sunken ship, a decision that will be based on a two-thirds majority, the families’ lawyer said yesterday in Jindo, South Jeolla.

This is the first time the families have officially mentioned the possibility of recovering the vessel from under the ocean since the ferry sank more than six months ago on April 16. The accident, Korea’s worst maritime disaster, left more than 300 dead or missing.

“You can say that the families are preparing themselves for the vessel salvation as the final step,” said Bae Eui-cheol, the lawyer representing the relatives.

However, the lawyer added this doesn’t mean the search should be stopped or that family members want to actively discuss recovery measures because some of them still oppose the idea. The discussion on vessel recovery, as well as the decision to incorporate majority rule, was put on the negotiating table on Wednesday at a meeting among the family members, during which some stormed out of the room.

The difficulties encountered in the search efforts so far may explain the resolve of some of the families to opt for the recovery. The families have acknowledged the possibility that the victims may still remain in the part of the ferry that was constricted in the accident, Bae said. However, trying to break into those areas underwater would take at least six months, he added.

Deteriorating weather conditions have also further complicated the search. The government task force handling the recovery confirmed on Oct. 15 that three parts of the vessel had yet to be searched. The strong wind and waves have also presented difficulties for divers.

Separately, Korea Pharmaceuticals CEO Kim Hye-kyung, aide to the late Yoo Byung-eun, de facto owner of the company that operated the Sewol ferry, was arrested on charges of embezzlement, professional negligence and tax evasion charges. She is also believed to have managed Yoo’s assets, worth millions of dollars, under her name.


BY KIM EUN-JI [eunjik@joongang.co.kr]

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