Condolences to the family and friends of all the victims of the Sewol, the South Korean ferry that went down near Jeju Island yesterday. As of now, nearly 300 people, mostly high school students, remain missing.
Some thoughts from a complete non-expert on all things naval and maritime and so on:
1) There is a warm place in hell for whichever government official stated early in the afternoon yesterday that every single student on board (they were on a field trip) had been rescued. Just how the hell do you make such a claim, while at the same time media started broadcasting video of a completely capsized and almost wholly sunken ship?
Update: Chosun Ilbo writes that it was Gyeonggi Provice “Education officials” who texted parents at 11 a.m. telling them all of the students had been rescued. The hammer needs to fall very, very hard on all of them.
2) Many reports are coming out that passengers were told to stay where they were, even as the water began rushing in. While it can’t be an easy decision to order hundreds of people into cold ocean water, isn’t their a middle ground of “prepare to evacuate,” where passengers put on life-jackets and get above deck to await further orders? Again, not an expert by any means, but wouldn’t ordering people to stay in their cabins be pretty much tantamount to a death warrant?
3) Some of the survivors reported that they were thrown life-jackets by rescue ships coming onto the scene, meaning they hadn’t put them on while on the ferry. It’s still too early to say obviously, but there may have been gross negligence on the part of the captain and/or crew.
4) Speaking of the captain, it seems he’s among the missing.
Update: Apparently the captain and some number of crew survived. Honestly, that just leads to more questions.
Overall, a really sad day for the country. The fact that so many of the victims were teenagers makes it all the more tragic.