Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Navy adds ocean rescue teams after 2014 ferry accident

South Korea's Navy launched new rescue teams Wednesday to beef up its emergency response to maritime accidents after the sinking of the ferry Sewol killed more than 300 people last year.

Three rescue operation teams, each composed of about 15 deep-sea divers, will kick off their operations under three Navy fleets covering the eastern, western and southern waters, the Navy said in a statement.

The new teams are mainly tasked with initial-stage response and rescue operations in maritime disaster situations, with captain-level officers heading the teams, according to the Navy.

The creation of the rescue teams is part of the Navy's efforts to prevent a repeat of last year's ferry sinking, it noted.

Succumbing to strong currents and overloading, the 6,825-ton ferry Sewol sank off the southwest coast on April 16, 2014, leaving 304 people dead or missing, most of them high school students on a field trip.

The high death toll was mainly blamed on government rescue bodies' fumbled disaster response in the initial stage of the accident.

With the deployment of new diving gear and search equipment, the teams will be able to dive as deep as 58 meters for an extended time, the Navy added.

"Since the Sewol accident, the Navy charted a plan on improving its rescue capacity and has steadily advanced that capacity to rescue speedily and systematically in a maritime accident," according to the statement.

Wednesday 1 July 2015


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