Questions mount in South Korean ferry disaster; hundreds still missing

Jindo, South Korea (CNN) — Anguished relatives of missing South Korean ferry passengers waited somberly for answers Thursday as rescuers fought bad weather, murky water, darkness and time to find a way deep into the capsized ship.

Authorities believe 276 people — many of them high school students on a field trip — may remain trapped inside the five-story ship. At least some, authorities say, could still be alive more than a day after the ship rolled over.

Meanwhile, the ferry’s captain is facing mounting questions about the incident.

Among other things, authorities are investigating the possibility the ship was off course when it ran into trouble, as well as reports that few of its lifeboats made it into the water, according to Kim Soo Hyeon, the chief of South Korea’s Yellow Sea Maritime Police Agency.

Ferry captain Lee Joon Suk, his head and face covered, broke down in tears when reporters asked if he had anything to say.

“I am sorry, I am at a loss for words,” Lee said at a South Korean Coast Guard office.

At least 20 people are known dead, according to the South Korean Ministry of Security and Public Administration. As of Thursday night, at least 179 had been rescued.

Weather hinders rescue

More than 170 ships and 512 divers have swarmed the ferry about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Jindo, South Korea, harbor where relatives have gathered.

But poor conditions have kept rescuers from reaching parts of the ship where air pockets could be sustaining survivors, authorities said.

Can they survive in air pockets?

Relentless rain, whipping winds and thick fog stymied rescue efforts Thursday. Three of the 22 volunteer divers who joined the search went missing in high tide but were later found, YTN said.

Efforts to pump air into the ship also failed because of the bad weather.

Despite government assurances that rescuers would work around the clock to save lives, some relatives were angry about the pace of the rescue operation.

“If the government cares for the people, our family, our children, please rescue our families and our children,” said Chang Min, whose second-grade son is among the missing.

‘Don’t move’

The ferry, which is designed to carry cargo and vehicles as well as passengers, was on a routine passage between Incheon and the resort island of Jeju when something went awry shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday.
On board were more than 300 Seoul high school students and teachers on a four-day trip to the island.

Questions mount in South Korean ferry disaster; hundreds still missing CNN
S Korea ferry: Bad weather hampers search for survivors BBC
South Korea ferry: Hundreds missing as ship sinks BBC
Students Among Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks New York Times
Nearly 300, mostly teens, missing after South Korean ferry sinks CBS News
Hundreds feared drowned in ferry disastere USA Today
South Korea ferry sinking Fox News
South Korea ferry riders texted desperate messages to loved ones as boat sank New York Daily News
South Korea Ferry Disaster: A Nation Searches for Answers Time News
‘I love you,’ student texts mom from sinking South Korea ferry LA Times

Schettino Accused of Cover Up

Costa Concordia captain accused of mounting cover up

Francesco Schettino, who steered the doomed cruise ship Costa Concordia onto rocks in 2012, tried to blame the collision on a black out, a witness at his trial claimed on Monday.

Schettino is accused of piloting the 114,000 tonne Costa Concordia onto the Tuscan island of Giglio during a ‘sail past’ of the island, ripping a hole in the ship which tilted onto its side in shallow water. As 4,200 passengers and crew fled the vessel, 32 drowned.

Schettino Accused of Cover Up Maritime Security Review

Concordia Captain Tried to Blame Wreck on Electrical Blackout

The captain of the Costa Concordia tried to persuade the crisis coordinator of the cruise line to pretend an electrical blackout had caused the shipwreck, a court was told on Monday.

The luxury liner hit rocks as it sailed close to the island of Giglio in January 2012, killing 32 people and setting off a chaotic evacuation of crew and passengers, some of who jumped into the sea and swam ashore.

Concordia Captain Tried to Blame Wreck on Electrical Blackout Marine Link

Shipwreck off Italy must be removed soon

An Italian official is pressing for the speedy removal of the shipwrecked cruise liner, the Costa Concordia, warning that the hulk may break up in winter storms.

Franco Gabrielli, head of the removal efforts, told residents of the tiny Mediterranean island of Giglio on Monday that the ship must be towed by September at the latest. Gabrielli says another winter’s worth of storms may damage the ship to such an extent that towing won’t be possible.

He pressed various national, regional and local authorities to move forward on plans.

Shipwreck off Italy must be removed soon mail.com

Missing Costa Concordia helmsman found in Indonesia

The Costa Concordia helmsman who failed to turn up to court in early March was discovered by Interpol officers in Indonesia last week.

Jacob Rusil Bin, who was steering the doomed cruise liner when it hit rocks off Giglio, was found in the countryside outside Jakarta.

Mr Rusil Bin is wanted in Italy to testify in the trial of Costa Concordia’s captain Francesco Schettino, however it’s not yet clear whether he will be forced to take the stand.

Missing Costa Concordia helmsman found in Indonesia Yachting & Boating World

Concordia helmsman found in Indonesia

The helmsman who was steering the Costa Concordia cruise ship when it crashed in 2012, leaving 32 people dead, has been picked up in Indonesia by international police agency Interpol.

Helmsman Jacob Rusil Bin was found by Interpol in the countryside outside the Indonesian capital Jakarta, Corriere della Sera reported on Wednesday.

Former crew of the Costa Concordia, Rusil Bin was steering the cruise ship when it ran aground off the coast of Tuscany on January 13th 2012 with over 4,000 people on board. The 114,500-ton vessel is still resting off the shore waiting to be towed away, after being turned upright in September in a salvage operation estimated to cost €825 million.

Concordia helmsman found in Indonesia the Local
Costa Concordia missing helmsman found in Indonesia Gazzetta del Sud
Costa Concordia missing helmsman found Ansa

Safe Passage

2014_04_06_23_12_37sp_300-042014

In January 2012 the Costa Concordia ran aground off the Tuscan coast in Italy with 4,252 passengers and crew onboard. Thirty-two of them died – twice the total of fatalities between 2005 and 2010.

In February of 2013, an engine room fire broke out aboard the Carnival Triumph off the coast of Mexico, leaving the ship and its approximately 4,000 passengers and crew stranded and adrift for five days until tugs could bring the vessel into port. Investigative reports by news agencies later stated that crew members and the company itself were aware of the risk before the vessel set sail. And just two years earlier, the Carnival Splendor had a similar engine room fire.

Passenger safety and security are at the forefront of the cruise industry these days, and for good reason. According to the website Cruisejunkie.com, 18 crew and passengers went overboard in 2013, 24 in 2012, and 23 in 2011. The site also reports that 66 cruise and ferry vessels have run aground since 2005 and 55 vessels, large and small, have actually sunk between 1979 and 2013.

Safe Passage Maritime Executive

The Battle of the Cruise Liners

Cruise liner companies have experienced an unwelcome period in the spotlight, staring with the Costa Concordia disaster that killed 30 passengers and left two missing (presumed dead), followed by a series of cruises suffering a mix of health and/or mechanical issues, culminating in the expedition that got caught in the ice in December last year — although the latter incident was not a large cruise liner.

The Battle of the Cruise Liners Motley Fool

U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Names New Members to Maritime Industry Advisory Panel


U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced the appointment of 10 new members to the Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council (MTSNAC). Established in 2010, MTSNAC is comprised of leaders from commercial transportation firms, trade associations, state and local public entities, labor organizations, academics, and environmental groups that advise the Secretary on policies to ensure that the U.S. Marine Transportation System is capable of responding to projected trade increases.

“The Obama Administration is committed to ensuring that America’s ports and waterways are capable of meeting the growing demands of moving freight in the 21st century,” said Secretary Foxx. “This advisory council will help guide us as we continue to invest in American transportation and in America’s future.”

Since 2009, this Administration has awarded over $420 million in TIGER funds to 33 ports and marine highway projects. These projects are large and small – inland and coastal, and handle 75 percent of America’s exports and imports. These investments have helped the maritime industry move these exports and imports by water, waterborne transport, and maritime industrial services, which play a vital role in our nation’s economy. MTSNAC policy recommendations have led to the expansion of the Marine Transportation System, the integration of Marine Highways in the surface transportation system and the improvement and streamlining of the Title XI ship financing process.

“This Council is an excellent example of a coordinated approach with the private sector,” Acting Maritime Administrator Paul N. Jaenichen said. “Their expertise and insight inform key decisions as we work to spark growth and ensure the greater efficiency of our Marine Transportation System.”

MTSNAC is comprised of 29 members from commercial transportation firms, trade associations, state and local entities, labor organizations, academics and environmental groups. Council members will serve 2-year terms, with no more than two consecutive term re­appointments, and approximately one-third of members’ terms of office shall expire every 2 years.

The Department strives to select dynamic individuals with in-depth knowledge of their respective industries or government sectors. Members are nominated through a full and open process published in the Federal Register.

The new members are:

Betty Sutton, Administrator, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC), Washington, D.C.

William Cook, Director, Worldwide Logistics and Customs, Chrysler Group, LLC, Auburn Hills, Mich.

Wayne Darbeau, President and CEO, San Diego United Port District, San Diego, Calif.

Gary Lee Moore, Interim Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Calif.

Captain Lynn Korwatch, Executive Director, Marine Exchange of the San Francisco Bay Region, San Francisco, Calif.

Charles Fabrikant, Executive Chairman, SEACOR Holdings, Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Kevin Schoeben, Deputy Director, Office of Planning and Programming, Illinois Department of Transportation, Springfield, Ill.

William Friedman, President and CEO, Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, Cleveland, Ohio

Gary Love, Vice President for Sales and Marketing at FAPS, Inc., Port Newark, N.J.

Richard Berkowitz, Director of Pacific Coast Operations, Transportation Institute, Seattle, Wash.