South Korean PM steps down as ferry sinking death toll rises to 188
JINDO, South Korea — Despite bad weather, dozens of South Korean divers continued underwater searches on Sunday for the missing from a sunken ferry, a spokesman said, finding one body to bring the confirmed death toll to 188.
The prime minister, Chung Hong-won's, resigned over the government's handling of the sinking.
Divers reached two large sleeping units in the ferry where many of the lost may lie dead, officials said on Saturday. Large objects that toppled when the vessel tipped over and sank are believed to be keeping divers from reaching bodies in at least one of the two rooms. The tragedy left more than 300 people dead or missing and led to widespread shame, fury and finger-pointing, blaming “deep-rooted evils” in society.
Fifty students from Danwon High School in Ansan, a city near Seoul, were booked into one of the rooms. Danwon students make up more than 80 percent of the dead and missing; they were on their way to the southern tourist island of Jeju.
“I just want to find my son's corpse. I want to see him one last time and hold a funeral for him,” said Lim Hee-bin, as he exhaled cigarette smoke near his tent at Paengmok port in Jindo. “But the government search operation is too slow. It's total nonsense.”
Lim said his son, Lim Hyun-jin, called him as the ship sank, but the call was cut off. His son sent him blurry and shaky photos showing his friends wearing orange life jackets and seated in a cabin.
“There are the last photos he sent me,” Lim said. “These show they were in a dangerous situation.”
Chung was heckled by victims' relatives, and his car was blocked when he visited a shelter on an island near the site of the sinking a week ago. On Sunday, he gave his reasoning for the resignation to reporters in Seoul.
“As I saw grieving families suffering with the pain of losing their loved ones and the sadness and resentment of the public, I thought I should take all responsibility as prime minister,” Chung said. “There have been so many varieties of irregularities that have continued in every corner of our society and practices that have gone wrong. I hope these deep-rooted evils get corrected this time and this kind of accident never happens again.”
South Korean executive power is largely concentrated in the president, so Chung's resignation appears to be symbolic. Presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook said President Park Geun-hye will accept the resignation but did not say when Chung would leave office.
Officials have taken into custody all 15 people involved in navigating the ferry Sewol, which sank on April 16.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Bombs at mosque, restaurant in central Nigerian city kill 44
- Iraqi fighter jet drops bomb over Baghdad, kills 12 people
- Greece’s EU role hangs in limbo as voters reject bailout in referendum
- Iran nuclear deal teeters on ‘hard choices,’ Kerry says
- Wildfires break out in Spain, Portugal
- U.S.-led coalition unleashes wave of airstrikes on Raqqa, Syria
- Gene therapy for cystic fibrosis promising, study shows
- Egypt claims to kill 63 terrorists in North Sinai
- Pope comes ‘home’ to South America to defend planet and the poor
- Fans cheer as Princess Charlotte christened on British royal estate in Sandringham
- Iraq, ISIS urge Turks to release dam water