Today marks exactly one year since the Sewol Ferry tragedy in South Korea on 16/04/14.
For those who don’t know about this tragic event, Sewol Ferry was travelling to Jeju Island with approximately 500 or so passengers. around 300 were students and staff of a high school in South Korea who planned to go to Jeju Island for a school trip.
During the travel process from Seoul to Jejudo, the ferry started to tip and began to capsize. The captain of the ferry ordered everyone to stay calm and return to their rooms, which many obeyed, before the captain escaped from the ferry himself with some other crew members.
Rescue boats were immediately contacted and they hurriedly made their way to the sinking ferry. There were a number of passengers who didn’t go back to their rooms and stayed on the deck, waiting for help, and a majority of them were rescued. However, the other 300 passengers who obeyed the captain’s words remained in their rooms until the ferry completely capsized.
During this rescue process, families of the passengers of the ferry hurriedly gathered at the dock where the ferry had departed, hoping with all their might that their family member will return safely, even though the chances weren’t high. To some people’s absolute joy, they are assured that their loved one has returned. But for some others, they are faced with the harsh reality that they may never be able to see their child/sibling/friend ever again.
One mother of a survivor of the ferry shared that she had received a text message from her son, saying: “I don’t know when I’ll be able to tell you this again, Mom, but I love you.” The mother, at the time, was oblivious to the situation, and texted back: “Oh I love you too, my son.” Soon enough she was hit with the tragic news that the ferry was sinking, and quickly made her way there. Thankfully, her son was one of the few lucky survivors.
There have also been other stories shared from the students contacting their parents about the disaster they were involved in, but I’m sure you’ll be able to find them online. (Sorry).
Rescue divers have also shared stories of what they’ve seen while they attempted to retreat the dead bodies of the 300 students, staff and other passengers in the sunken ferry:
- Many of the student’s fingers have all be broken or crushed, most likely due to their attempt to escape the ferry before death hits them.
- Dead bodies of students have been seen to hold hands with each other.
- A boy and a girl have buckled their life jackets to each other, most likely not wanting to part with each other as their lives disappear in front of their eyes. The rescue diver shared that it broke his heart, knowing that he was only able to take one student at a time, forcing him to unbuckle the life vests of these young students.
Just like this, within moments, hundreds of lives have been lost. What makes this event especially heartbreaking is that a majority of the deaths are innocent students. Those students are just around my age, perhaps 1-2 years older. I can’t even imagine what their loved ones are going through throughout past year, knowing that they’ll never see their children again.
The vice principle of the school these students belonged to had also suicided by hanging himself, blaming himself for the cause of these students. The survivors have been going through a difficult time without their friends. The lower grades of the school will have no senior grades to look up to. As reporters visited the school, they have reported that many heartfelt messages had been written on the desks of the students who have lost their lives.
I am crying so much as I write this, and I just ask that everyone should pray for the people who have unrightfully lost their lives like this, and also for the families and friends of the non-survivors. Losing these students are a huge loss to their amazing country, and we should always remember such a tragedy and hopefully learn from this and do better in the future.This may just be “just another accident” to the rest of us, but please think about it. 300 teenage students killed on their way to a school trip. This is just another level of innocence of undeserved deaths. Imagine if their trip was scheduled for even 1 day later. 300 young lives with bright futures could have continued living, and such a tragic loss wouldn’t have taken place.
2014 definitely wasn’t a great year for many countries, so let’s forget about these tragic events and move on, but also keep them in our hearts forever at the same time. Life goes on so let’s make 2015 better. When there is a chance for an act of kindness, do not hesitate and do it. The students who have lost their lives in the Sewol ferry would have certainly been kind people.
(Also, the captain of the ferry who escaped by himself has been sentenced 36 years in prison, 30 years for the chief engineer, and 5-20 years for the rest of the 13 crew members who escaped from the ferry before, leaving the passengers to fend for themselves.)