Three years later: Sewol ferry lifted from the deep as families watch

World Today

Families of the victims of South Korea’s deadly Sewol ferry disaster watched the ship being lifted from the water after a three-year-long wait.

The salvage crew is working through the night to cut the stern ramp from the ferry so transportation to harbor can begin.

CGTN’s Jack Barton has this report from the port of Jindo.

Three years later: Sewol ferry lifted from the deep as families watch

Families of the victims of South Korea's deadly Sewol ferry disaster watched the ship being lifted from the water after a three-year-long wait. The salvage crew is working through the night to cut the stern ramp from the ferry so transportation to harbor can begin. CGTN's Jack Barton has this report from the port of Jindo.

The Sewol Ferry rose from the depths after almost three years on the seafloor off the southwest tip of South Korea A Chinese salvage company is overseeing the lift.

The biggest recovery operation in history.

The accident killed 304 people, most of them high school children.

The families of victims still missing watched from a nearby boat.

“Seeing the ferry emerge, we were devastated. My heart crumbled thinking, ‘Our dear Eun-hwa was in there, in that dirty place. What a poor thing our Eun-hwa is. How cold she must have been,” said Lee Keum-hee, mother of missing passenger Cho Eun-hwa.

On shore Buddhist monks and passers-by prayed for the families, the victims and the operation to resurrect the ship at a pier that has become a permanent shrine to the lives lost.

When the Sewol is finally transported to Mokpo harbor authorities will begin the search for the nine people still listed as missing as well as the true cause of this tragedy.

It’s thought the ferry tipped over after turning sharply because it was top-heavy from illegal additions to the structure.

The disaster fed into a growing outcry over corruption that eventually engulfed the president herself, who vanished for seven hours during the sinking and was accused by many parliamentarians of dereliction of duty.

The ferry must now be transported less than ninety kilometers, but at a snail’s pace.

“We expect it will take 12 or 13 days, but once again we say things can happen so this is a fluid situation, “ said Lee Cheol-jo, the Minister of Maritime Affairs, in charge of refloating Sewol Ferry.

So it could be almost a fortnight before search parties can enter the hull, in the hope of bringing closure to the families of the missing victims and to an entire nation.