+ A

Sewol to arrive on land by the end of the week

Apr 05,2017
The Sewol, which is lying wrecked on a semi-submersible ship docked at a port in Mokpo, South Jeolla, will be transported to land by Friday, before the end of the neap tide, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

“We will have the ferry on land by Friday,” the Oceans Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. “We will begin by testing the modular transporters on Wednesday and start moving the ferry to land on Thursday.”

The neap tide falls between Tuesday and Friday. If this opportunity is missed, the ferry may have to wait two weeks before the next neap tide to be transported safely to the dock.

The wrecked ferry salvaged from the bottom of the sea southwest of Jindo, an island in South Jeolla, has been lying on a semi-submersible ship docked to the Mokpo New Port from Friday in the midst of the ongoing draining process.

The ferry, which weighs some 13,460 tons, nearly twice its weight before it sank, needs to weigh less than 13,000 tons before it can be transported onto the dock by 456 modular transporters. As of Monday, it was drained of some 251 cubic meters (8,864 cubic feet) of mud and sediment.

“If the ferry cannot be drained enough to weigh less than 13,000 tons by Thursday, we will have to add 24 modular transporters in carrying the ferry from the ship onto the land,” said Kim Chang-joon, chair of the Sewol investigative committee comprising lawmakers, professors and vessel experts. “But in that case, the ferry will have to wait some two to three days before it can be moved onto the land, because it takes those additional days to get extra modular transporters onto the dock.”

The ministry, working with China’s state-run Shanghai Salvage, punctured 16 additional holes of some 6 to 7 centimeters (2.3 to 2.7 inches) in diameter and three of 15 to 20 centimeters on the ferry’s cargo section on Monday to drain it of seawater and sediment. The ministry confirmed on Tuesday that it found 79 articles belonging to the passengers of the Sewol during the draining processes.

“We have retrieved a total of 20 bone pieces and 79 articles of passengers as of Monday evening,” the ministry announced on Tuesday.

Among the bone pieces, 19 have been confirmed as being animal bones by forensic experts while one, too small to be identified on site, was sent to the National Forensic Service research center to be further examined, the ministry said.

BY OH WON-SEOK, HAN YOUNG-HYE and LEE SEUNG-HO [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]