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Parliament to receive gov't reports on deadly ferry disaster

A special parliamentary committee plans to begin its investigation into a deadly ferry disaster later this month by receiving reports from related government departments, a committee official said Friday.

The committee will be briefed by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and the Coast Guard on Thursday and Friday, the first step of the parliamentary probe, said Rep. Kim Hyun-mi, a key opposition member of the committee.

Kim, a lawmaker of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, said the minister of oceans and fisheries and the head of the Coast Guard, as well as others related to the ferry disaster, will testify before the National Assembly, citing a guarantee by the ruling party.

The rival parties had been at odds over the scheduling of government reports on the accident that left more than 300 people dead or missing.

Earlier this week, the committee agreed to form a team -- composed of 44 experts as well as two of the victims' family members -- as part of bipartisan efforts to determine the cause of April's deadly ferry disaster.

South Korea's initial investigation showed that a sharp turn by the vessel, overloading and a lack of ballast water that could have helped stabilize the ship combined to cause the 6,825-ton ferry Sewol to capsize and sink.

The accident triggered collective soul-searching in South Korea where safety is often overlooked by regulators in cosy relationships with their former colleagues in the private sector.

It has also made public safety a top political priority for the country. (Yonhap)

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