A new investigation will be launched to look into the highly-publicised sinking of a South Korean passenger ferry that had claimed over 300 lives, the country’s Supreme Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) disclosed on Tuesday, November 5.
A special task force of eight prosecutors will be formed to identify which factors caused the Ro-Pax ferry Sewol to capsize and sink off Byeongpungdo in the country’s southwest on the morning (local time) of April 16, 2014.
The SPO’s probe will also determine whether the South Korean government had mishandled the subsequent rescue operations which in turn further raised the number of casualties.
The victims’ families and the Special Commission on Social Disaster Investigation, an independent enquiry panel, have continually criticised the government’s delayed response to the tragedy. In particular, the commission claims to have evidence of belated mobilisation of rescue helicopters and other indicators of negligence that led to greater loss of life.
Sewol sank while en route from Incheon to Jeju island, a popular tourist attraction, with 476 passengers and crew on board. A total of 304 people, around 250 of whom were secondary school students, perished in the incident.
The vessel’s captain, 14 other crewmembers, and one of its owners have since been charged with various crimes including murder, manslaughter, and abandoning a ship with passengers in distress.
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