03/23/2017, 12.46
SOUTH KOREA
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Sewol disaster: ferry recovery begins

The vessel capsized about 3 years ago because of overcrowding and poor maintenance. 304 people, mostly students who were participating in a trip, were killed. The operations will last eight days; the cost is $ 72 million.

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - This morning the recovery operations started of the ferry Sewol which sunk about three years ago in front of the south-western coast of South Korea. Relatives and parents of the 304 victims, mostly high school students who were going in the island of Jindo for a school trip, are witnessing the lifting maneuvers amid emotions of pain and anger. One of them, Hong-Hwan Huh, father of a 16 year old girl, said: "I can not describe my sorrow at seeing again that ferry."

The tragedy occurred April 16, 2014, and has shaken the entire country. The vessel, of about 6,825 tons and 145 meters long, first tipped on its side and then disappeared under the waters. The probable causes of the sinking, still to ascertain since the Seoul government has launched an investigation, was overcrowding, poor maintenance and inexperience of the crew. Some survivors speak of not having received any help from the ferry staff and the Coast Guard, even when the sinking was already evident.

The lifting of the wreck lying on the seabed 40 meters deep and within which nine bodies are still trapped, began at 10 am (local time). The spokesman of the South Korean Ministry for oceans and fisheries said it "will take at least eight days to completely bring it to the surface and transport the ferry to the port of Mokpo. Then another four days will be needed to get it to a dry dock ". The total cost of the project, the work of a Chinese consortium led by Shanghai Salvage, is 85.1 billion won (72 million dollars).

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