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Korea vows measures to prevent boating accidents

South Korea will establish wharves for rescue boats at all Coast Guard stations and set up a direct emergency call service to promptly save people in case of maritime emergencies, the oceans ministry said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced a set of safety measures after a refueling ship collided with a chartered fishing boat in waters near the western port city of Incheon on Dec. 3, killing 15 people.

In response to criticism over the delayed rescue efforts, the ministry said it will establish wharves for all 96 Coast Guard stations to promptly dispatch rescue vessels in times of emergency. Currently, only 23 stations have wharves. 

Officers inspect a refueling vessel anchored at Incheon port on Dec. 5, 2017, after it hit a fishing boat, killing 15 people. (Yonhap)
Officers inspect a refueling vessel anchored at Incheon port on Dec. 5, 2017, after it hit a fishing boat, killing 15 people. (Yonhap)

While calls for maritime accidents are currently directed to emergency numbers of the country's police and fire departments, the ministry plans to establish an independent calling system to receive reports related to ship accidents.

The government also will beef up rescue workers and diving equipment at Coast Guard stations and set up a special rescue team in Incheon and on the southern island of Jeju, in addition to the ones in Busan, Mokpo and Donghae, to handle large-scale marine accidents.

The latest boating accident was the worst tragedy involving a South Korean recreational fishing boat since a similar accident occurred in waters near Jeju Island in September 2015. Fifteen people were killed and three went missing due to the sinking. (Yonhap)

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