Candlelight Vigil to be Held for Sunken Ferry Victims

A candlelight vigil will be held on campus on Saturday, April 26 for the victims who were aboard a South Korean ferry boat that capsized earlier this month.

The vigil, sponsored by the Boston College Korean Student Association, the Korean International Student Association, Campus Ministry and the Asian Christian Fellowship, will take place in the Gasson Chapel and will begin at 5:00 p.m.

The Sewol Ferry, which was headed to Jeju Island, was carrying 476 passengers. The group of high school students and teachers was headed to the island for a school trip to relax before their traditionally stressful senior year.

While the ultimate cause of the disaster has yet to be determined, the ferry was passing an area known for its treacherous waters when it made a sharp left turn and tipped over onto its side. The ship soon began taking on water as it was unable to re-balance itself. Ultimately, about 150-160 passengers and crew jumped overboard before the ship sank.

Approximately 300 or so passengers remained trapped in the ship when it capsized. There was hope that divers would be able to retrieve any of the surviving passengers that may have found air pockets.

sewol vigil poster

Photo courtesy of BC KSA/Facebook

Emergency crew members also began pumping air in from the bottom of the ship to provide any survivors with fresh air. However, divers were unable to find any passages into the ship and hopes of rescue were quickly dashed when the ship became fully submerged underwater.

Since then, the operation has shifted from a rescue operation to a salvage mission with divers going to retrieve bodies for the victims’ families, who were staying at a nearby gymnasium. The death toll has quickly neared 200 victims with over 100 still missing.

Much of the blame for the disaster has been placed on the crew of the Sewol Ferry, particularly the ship’s captain, who was among the first to abandon ship. However, it appears to be increasingly evident that the tragedy is more to blame on a culmination of factors such as the overloading of cargo, the addition of additional passenger cabins, and a lack of crew preparation and training.

Attention has also been drawn to the South Korean government’s lax shipping regulations. Shipping regulations in the country are created by the Korean Shipping Association which is also an industry trade group. Many experts have determined this arrangement to be a conflict of interest.

The country also has a bad reputation for enforcing its existing regulations in exchange for higher profit margins.

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