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[Ferry Disaster] Korea to reinforce maritime safety

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Published : 2014-05-07 20:40
Updated : 2014-05-07 21:07

The government is taking steps to bolster maritime safety as the search for those missing in the Sewol accident continued for the 22nd day.

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved a bill calling for the introduction of maritime safety inspectors, as part of the government’s plans to focus maritime safety-related measures on preventing accidents.

Under the plans, the Maritime Safety Act will be revised to allow the appointment of safety inspectors. In addition, the revision will allow government support to be provided to marine transport industry officials who make significant contributions to reducing maritime accidents. 
People put out yellow paper boats symbolizing their hopes for the safe return of Sewol’s passengers outside City Hall in Seoul on Wednesday. (EPA-Yonhap)

The revised act will also make it mandatory for government organizations and local governments to submit safety reports to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries when conducting projects that require safety assessments.

In the search for the missing, the rescue workers spurred on efforts to complete their sweep of the ship, capitalizing on the neap tide, when tidal differences decrease and currents slow.

The Sewol, which sank off the coast of Jindo Island, South Jeolla Province on April 16, was carrying 476 passengers and crew. As of 6 p.m., the death toll stood at 269 and 33 remained missing.

By Saturday, when the neap tide ends, divers plan to complete the sweep through some of the 64 cabins already searched and search 47 compartments that have been left unsearched. Areas that will be searched for the first time include the ship’s shop, toilets and other common areas.

Along with the search inside the sunken vessel, the authorities widened the search for bodies to nearby waters. So far, 41 bodies have been recovered outside the Sewol, with some being discovered as far as 2.4 kilometers from the ship.

The body recovered 4 kilometers from the ship on May 2 has since been revealed to have been lost as a diver was bringing it to surface.

The government team tasked with preventing the loss of bodies requested fishermen to comb more than 2,000 hectares of aquaculture grounds in the region. Fishermen have also been tasked with checking the coasts of some 183 small islands in the region for bodies. According to reports, 129 have been searched and the rest will be checked within the next two to three days.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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