There has been no consensus reached on the reported time of the ferry Sewol’s sinking, according to news reports on Monday, adding to the nation’s confusion about the accident.
According to accident reports, the ferry sent a distress signal at 8:58 a.m., when the Jeju Vessel Traffic Service Center transferred the Sewol to its Jindo Island counterpart to start the rescue operation.
However, evidence continues to surface that as early as 8:29 a.m. the Sewol crew was aware that something had gone awry and had communicated the news to third parties.
The Korea Hydrographic and Oceanographic Administration requested the assistance of commercial vessels and fishing boats near the accident site almost 30 minutes before the 8:58 a.m. report.
A report on the KHOA website reads, “April 16, approximately 8:30 a.m., the ferry Sewol, heading from Incheon to Jejudo Island, is sinking near Jindo, South Jeolla Province.”
Jindo County Office’s report to the South Jeolla Province situation room also states an earlier time for the accident, 8:25 a.m.
At 8:50 a.m. the school’s vice principal, who took his own life Friday, called the school to say “the ship is being flooded.”
A helmsman on the ferry told the local daily The Herald Business that the crew made various attempts to restore the ship on their own. He said that the captain gave evacuation orders at around 9:30 a.m. when the attempts proved futile.
A fisherman who participated in the rescue operation said, “I set out to sea at 6:30 a.m. so it must have been around 7:00 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. when I saw the ship in the sea.”
By Suh Ye-seul (firstname.lastname@example.org)