Survivors, dead from sunken ship arrive in Busan

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Survivors, dead from sunken ship arrive in Busan

The bodies of those who died after a Korean fishing trawler sank earlier this month in the Bering Sea arrived in Busan on Friday, nearly a month after the accident.

The 1,753-ton Oryong 501 capsized on Dec. 1 in the freezing waters off the eastern coast of Russia due to bad weather, killing 27 crew members and leaving 26 others missing.

Only seven men were rescued. Six survivors, three Indonesians and three Filipinos, were also aboard the 5,000-ton Russian vessel that transported the dead, which arrived at Gamcheon Harbor in Busan. The 21 bodies onboard were confirmed to be the remains of 14 Indonesians and five Filipino crew members. The other two have not yet been identified.

The surviving men will receive health checkups at a nearby hospital and be treated until they are deemed fully recovered. They are also scheduled to be questioned over the accident so that authorities can gain a better understanding of the cause of the accident and the events leading up to it.

The Oryong 501 was carrying 60 crew members when it sank: 11 Koreans, 35 Indonesians, 13 Filipinos and one Russian inspector, according to Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Among the 11 Korean crew, six have been confirmed dead, including the Korean captain of the ship, and five remain missing. The bodies are scheduled to be returned to Korea once search vessels withdraw on Dec. 31.

According to the Korean government, poor weather and water conditions have hampered further searches.

When the Russian ship came into sight on Friday, 10 Korean family members who lost their loved ones or have not yet found them burst into tears.

“He is still in the freezing water! What should I do?” one of them cried out.

Korean Capt. Kim Kye-hwan, 46, was among the casualties on Dec. 1. In a radio transmission, Kim told Lee Yang-woo, another Sajo Industries captain and a close friend: “I am staying with the boat till the very end.”

The boat sank less than an hour later, at 5:15 p.m. local time.

Ten officials from the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia and the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Seoul were present at Gamcheon Harbor to express their condolences and urged the Korean government’s cooperation and support in managing the accident.

The Oryong 501 was built 36 years ago and operated by Sajo Industries, a Korean fishing company.

BY PARK YUNA [ypc3c@joongang.co.kr]




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