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[Ferry Disaster] Koreans stream to altar for victims of ferry

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Published : 2014-04-30 21:13
Updated : 2014-04-30 21:33

Thousands of mourners headed to the memorial altar in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday to express their condolences to the victims of the ferry that sank off the south coast two weeks ago.

As of Wednesday noon, more than 200,000 Koreans had visited the memorial altar since it opened on April 23.

Mourners in other regions also visited altars in their cities to pay their respects to the ferry victims. Local governments opened altars earlier this week after more people demanded places to express their condolences over one of the worst maritime accidents in South Korea. 
Samsung Electronics vice chairman and group heir Lee Jay-yong (right) and Samsung Electronics chief executive officer Kwon Oh-hyun pay their respects to the victims of the Sewol ferry disaster at the joint altar set up in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday. (Joint Press Corps)

In Seoul, more than 68,000 have thronged to a memorial altar in Seoul Plaza since Monday.

Over the weekend, many citizens braved the chilly weather and rain and stood in a long line until late at night to pay tribute. People left thousands of messages about the victims and attached yellow ribbons, a symbol of hope for the safe return of the missing, on the altar wall.

Along with the altar, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said it would open a 450-square-meter garden of yellow ribbons in Seoul Plaza on Thursday to commemorate the deaths of the Sewol victims, officials said.

The shape of the garden will resemble a teardrop or comma to express sorrow for the deaths and to wish for peaceful rest of the victims, the city said.

A total of 302 metal bars will be placed in the garden to remember the total number of the passengers confirmed dead or missing, it added. The yellow ribbons and messages will be put together along with candles.

Meanwhile, the Health and Welfare Ministry is working to set up a trauma treatment center later this week in Ansan to support relatives of the ferry victims.

The support center will be run for at least three years to help treat the trauma and emotional distress of the relatives and friends of the victims. Some 20 mental health experts will offer counseling, the ministry said.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (rene@heraldcorp.com)

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