[Statement] Condolences for Two Divers Killed While on Duty in Ferry Sewol
Condolences for Two Divers Killed While on Duty in Ferry Sewol
We mourn for two divers who died while searching the sunken ferry Sewol.
(30 May 2014, Seoul) Another diver fell unconscious during ferry disaster search and was taken to hospital but he died on May 30. The veteran crew member was being involved in cutting open the hull of the sunken ferry Sewol. He was the second who fell victim during search and rescue work after another civilian diver died on May 6. We are deeply saddened to hear that two more lives have been taken after the April 16 ferry disaster. We, People’s Committee on the Sewol Ferry Disaster, would like to mourn for two civilian divers who shared the pain and tried to rescue the missing victims at the risk of their own lives and to pray for their bereaved families.
Divers have faced intense pressure to retrieve as many of the missing as possible and take all the risks and burdens on their own. The Korean government, bearing ultimate responsibility, should have tried to minimize risks involved with the overall search operation and to provide safety for the divers. It was revealed when Lee Gwang-wook, a diver, died while on duty on May 6, that no medical staff were standing by on the barge where divers rest and resupply. The government should set up measures to ensure that divers could rest enough after underwater search and get medical assistance immediately when they need.
Since the early stage of the ferry sinking, all the Koreans as well as the families of the victims have been shocked and become outraged at the government’s incompetency and irresponsibility laid bare in handling the accident. As a private firm, not a government agency as a control tower, took on the rescue operations, the early critical moments were wasted, with failure of expeditious rescue and search. And even after the government set up a disaster management taskforce, individual divers have taken all the risks without proper support. To make matters worse, President Park Geun-hye’s sudden announcement of disbanding the Coast Guard rather intensified confusion at the scene, stirring up resentment among the families of the missing. Presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook’s inappropriate remarks on “divers being paid per body” not only hurt the bereaved but also insulted divers to dampen their morale. The government has still drawn a profound distrust upon itself by resorting to temporary expedients.
No more pain should be inflicted on the families of the missing and the victims of the ferry disaster. They are now concerned about the divers’ health and safety more than anyone else. The authorities should thoroughly ensure the search operations to be prompt and complete and check the safety measures for divers. We, People’s Committee on the Sewol Ferry Disaster, urge the government to make sincere efforts to end suffering and tragedy that has continued since April 16.
Korean Statement >> 세월호 수색 민간 잠수사 두 분의 명복을 빕니다
(Translated by Kyungsun Park, Volunteer)
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