Thousands mark second anniversary of South Korean ferry disaster

Grieving relatives threw white chrysanthemums over the side of a boat at the place where the Sewol ferry sunk exactly two years ago, as the country marked the anniversary of the disaster on Saturday. A total of 304 people died, mostly students, when the Sewol sank off the south-western island of Jindo, in a tragedy that shocked and enraged the country. About 2,500 people, including grieving family members and victims, gathered for an event marking the second anniversary of the sinking at a memorial altar in Ansan, where most of the victims lived, according to the city’s police. Nearly 5,000 others are expected in the evening at a square in the capital Seoul, where relatives of the victims had camped for months in protest.

Son, how are you? I’ve come to see you. Come back to us now. Your mother is waiting for you.

One grieving father

Following the disaster, it emerged it was primarily caused by human error – an illegal redesign, overloaded cargo bay, inexperienced crew and a questionable relationship between operators and state regulators. Seoul announced last year that it would raise the 6,825-tonne ferry, which had been a key demand of the victims’ families, who cling to hopes that nine bodies still unaccounted for may yet be recovered. The $72 million project to raise the vessel is being spearheaded by a Chinese company. It is expected to begin next month and could be finished by late July.

The government will do its best to salvage the ship and bring back the nine missing bodies safely to the families.

Oceans Minister Kim Young-Suk