|Prime Minister Jung Hong-won (Yonhap)|
Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won is to take the helm of search and rescue operations for passengers on the sunken ferry Sewol, Chung’s office said Thursday.
The government will form an inter-ministerial response headquarters for the sinking, with the prime minister as its leader. Home Affairs Minister Kang Byung-kyu and Maritime Minister Lee Ju-young will be deputy chiefs of the headquarters.
Ministers of education, welfare, defense and culture as well as heads of the Coast Guard and National Emergency Management Agency and South Jeolla Province Governor Park Joon-yung will also participate.
Korean authorities will focus their efforts on rescuing some 287 passengers still missing after the ship sank at around 8:55 a.m. on Wednesday, off the coast of Jindo Island, South Jeolla Province. Of the 175 people onboard, 179 have been rescued while nine deaths have been confirmed.