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Families of missing people face nervous wait after ferry disaster

Families of missing people face nervous wait after ferry disaster

Posted April. 18, 2014 01:27,   


Rain began to fall from the cloudy sky in the morning. Around 200 family members of missing passengers arrived at port Paengmok at 8 p.m. Wednesday when the Sewol ferry capsized off the island of Jindo, South Jeolla Province. Most of them stood up all night.

“Dad’s here! Dad’s here, my son!” “Oh my God, Min-ji, Mom’s here all the way from home.”

Parents called their child’s name to the sea. They wanted to get closer to the scene of the accident. Some parents refused to have a meal or even a warm drink, saying, “My child is out there in the cold. What’s the use of me being warm?”

Around 7:30 a.m. Thursday, a ship carrying some 200 family members headed for the area of rescue efforts. Some people who could not be on the ship due to the lack of seats stomped on their feet and just watched it leaving.

Families who expected rescued people in the morning seemed worried after they heard the increase of the death toll. Hearing that rescue efforts were suspended due to rainy winds and strong currents, some families asked coast guards to put oxygen in the ferry and send ships and helicopters to rescue people. Whenever a glimmer of hope was mentioned on social networking websites such as Facebook or Twitter, there were growing calls. As the list of unconfirmed survivors passed at the port of Paengmok, a mother cried, saying, “My girl, you’re still alive. Mom’s here.”

People became serious around 1 p.m. when the ship carrying the families of missing people returned to the port. Two parents plunked down and cried, saying that they saw bodies floating on water. As it rained harder, those who were sitting on the shore moved into tents. But no one ever seemed to think about leaving the port. The mother of a missing student, Jeon Ha-young, wiped out tears, saying, “I keep thinking about my daughter’s voice in our last call. I’ll wait for days.”

Families desperately waited for news at the gymnasium where missing people’s families were staying. People seemed more depressed as some 100 family members of missing people moved additionally to the port of Paengmok at 6 a.m. An official from the Korea Coast Guard announced at around 7 a.m., “We failed to enter the ferry after four attempts from 5:40 a.m. with a 20-minute interval.” The families seemed weighed down, saying, “Nothing has been going right since yesterday.”

When the officials announce the names of the dead, someone screamed. When the mother of 17-year-old Park Yeong-in heard her son died, she collapsed and was carried to the hospital in an ambulance.

As time passed, the missing people’s families tried to calm down. As police and the representative of families of missing people confronted, a person said, “We’ve got to find our child. Let’s not fight. Let’s figure out what we can do.” A 47-year-old man who lost his niece said, “All of us here including me who lost my niece lost our beloved family members. Let’s work together for us.”