Forgot the lesson already?Another major casualty has occurred at sea. A fishing boat with 22 on board collided with an oil tanker in the waters off Incheon on Sunday. Thirteen have died and two remain missing. Among those rescued, seven have been seriously injured. The 9.77-ton boat capsized 9 minutes after clashing with the 336-ton tanker.
The maritime police suspect the two vessels collided while trying to rush their way out of the narrow waterway between the piers of Yeongheung Bridge in the West Sea.
Authorities must investigate the rescue system as well as the accident. The coast guard rescue boat arrived 33 minutes after the accident was registered. It took four minutes for an order to be made, 13 minutes to prepare sailing, and 16 minutes to travel. They could have saved time if they had skipped the command system. Why it took more than an hour for a rescue helicopter to arrive at the scene also must be investigated. The coast guard cited poor weather conditions, but authorities must examine whether there had been lax discipline on early Sunday morning.
Over 7 million Koreans fish for hobby. Fishing is a bigger hobby than mountain climbing. Safety standards and systems may not be as up-to-date with the popularity of the leisure sport.
Two years ago, 18 people died after a fishing boat capsized. In an incident in October, a four-year-old died because he was not wearing a life jacket. Authorities may have slacked off in supervising the boats that serve as the main source of income for fishers. Fishers also may have been lax in maintenance to save money.
President Moon Jae-in’s government vowed to make Korea safe and never repeat the Sewol ferry tragedy. To keep up with the promise, the government must re-check and tighten the disaster control system.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 4, Page 34