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May 12, 2014

Fun Field Trip Ends in Tragedy

Secondary Students from Danwon High School were expecting a fun, relaxing, and educational field trip as climate has been starting to warm up in South Korea. The kids were all excited about their trip to Jeju Island. Little did they know that they were in for one big surprise; a bad one though. One of the biggest and most controversial ship accidents every in South Korea.

Wrong Turn to Death
M/V Sewol, a Korean ferry that regularly sails from Incheon to Jeju Island started sailing towards the kids’ destination. Just 25 kilometers after, the vessel made a sharp turn to the left. While conditions were calm, passengers reported that they felt the vessel has tilted. At that time, the captain was in his private cabin while the crew’s third mate was in control. After attempts to re-balance the ship failed, the crew made contact with the Jeju Vessel Traffic Service to notify the coast guard that the ship was in danger as it was rolling. One passenger’s parent however, reported to the Coast Guard that the ship was about to capsize and asked for rescue. The captain asked the passengers to stay in their cabins. Not long after, the ship has in the later stages of capsizing, making the evacuation of the passengers impossible.

A Fun Trip Turned Tragic
Two and a half hours later, the ship sank. A few days after, around 64 people have died, while 238 others are still missing, presumed dead. The tragedy got the whole country abuzz in anger. This is one of the worst maritime accidents in Korea. While the number of people who died were not too many, the manner of which the accident happened have got the authorities overwhelmed. While rescue came quickly, the captain’s decision has jeopardized the evacuation and was indeed liable for the death of the passengers. Now the authorities have arrested the captain and the ship’s crew members who reportedly fled the ship as it was sinking, leaving the passengers to fight for their lives.

Travelling by sea is rather safe. In fact here in California, there are only isolated cases of sea mishaps that have been recorded in the last few years. The tragic voyage of M/V Sewol serves as a rude awakening not just for the Koreans but every country in the world. While the parents of the children can file wrongful death cases against the shipping company and its’ crewmembers, the lives and bright futures of the children lost will never be brought back. A California ship accident attorney believes that this tragedy gives bitter and painful lessons not just for Korean authorities but the entire maritime industry across the globe. He is hoping that measures should be taken and that responsible people are held liable for their negligence and inaction.