Weather Hampers Lifting of Sewol Wreck in South Korea

Mike Schuler
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June 14, 2016

Rescue boats sail around the South Korean passenger ship “Sewol” which sank, during their rescue operation in the sea off Jindo, in this April 17, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

High waves have forced salvage crews to delay the operation to lift the sunken Sewol ferry in South Korea until later this month.

The lifting of vessel kicked off Sunday afternoon but by Monday high waves and wind forced the suspension of operations before lifting beams to be used to raise the vessel could be inserted into place.

According to the South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, salvors were able to lift the bow section from the seabed by a few meters but bobbing from the waves caused the cables to cut into the wreck, forcing the operation to be suspended.

The Ministry said that lifting operations could be postponed by as many as 10 days.

The Sewol ferry sank off the South Korea’s Jindo island on April 16, 2014, killing 304 people, mostly high school students on a field trip, in South Korea’s worst maritime disaster in decades. The bodies of nine victims have still not been recovered.

The salvage project is being carried out by a consortium led by Shanghai Salvage, which was awarded the $74 million contract in August 2015.

The plan calls for the ferry, lying at a depth of 44 meters, to be partially raised using airbags and moved onto a steel lifting beams, which will then lifted to the surface by a crane. Officials are holding out hope that the vessel can be raised to the surface in one piece, rather than cut up and lifted.

The lifting operations are expected to last through the summer.  


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