Reuters is reporting that a few crew members aboard the South Korean ferry “Sewol” that sunk off the coast of the country in April drank beer and had a good time while they waited for rescue operations to commence! The latest revelation by one of the crew members who appeared in a court that is trying people responsible for the accident, and it’s likely that this accident will serve to fuel public anger in South Korea.
According to the engineer who deposed in the court, he and another colleague of his drank beer in a hallway of the doomed ferry after the coastguard was notified that the ferry was taking in water and had started to list. The justification he gave for this rather crude behavior was that it helped him “calm down.”
“We took a sip to calm down,” the engineer told the court. He is among other crew members who have been charged with criminal negligence.
The court, situated at Gwangju, near the area where the ferry accident took place was filled with family members of the victims. The engineer’s revelation about him drew ridicule from the family members who asked him whether he would like to have a beer in court as well.
“Would you like a beer now, too?” a family member reportedly asked the engineer in court.
In all, 15 crew members who were in charge of the doomed ferry have been charged with negligence. This includes the disgraced captain of the ferry, 68-year-old Lee Joon-seok. The crew members’ justification for their negligence was that they assumed it was the responsibility of the coastguard to rescue the passengers. The captain has, in court, also admitted that he had not made security checks before the vessel left the port. He claimed that he was simply following a long established practice.
The main allegation against the crew members of the sunken ferry is that they told the students aboard the ferry to remain where they are – as the ferry listed and started to sink. The crew themselves however managed to escape. Over 300 people, most of them students from a single school in Korea, lost their lives due to the negligence of the ferry crew. It was the deadliest ferry disaster in South Korea to date; only 172 people managed to get off the ferry alive. Eerie footage of students calmly sitting in their cabins was uploaded to YouTube – weeks after the disaster. Footage of the crew members escaping from the ferry was also released.
Upon investigation, it was deduced that the ferry accident took place after it took a sharp turn. The ferry was also structurally weak and was carrying more passengers than it was able to withstand.
[Image Via NewsWeek]