|A moment of rescue operation|
SINAN, South Jeolla Province -- South Korea's Coast Guard said Sunday that it rescued all 15 crew and passengers from a ferry ship that sank off the southwestern coast during unfavorable weather conditions.
Authorities in Sinan County, 410 kilometers south of Seoul, said one of its cutters successfully picked up people from the stricken ferry that had capsized after chains securing vehicles onboard broke in 4-meter-high waves on Dec 26 2010. It said when the 3,000-ton cutter arrived on the scene, the 495-ton ferry had capsized. Seven of its passengers were already in the water, with the rest huddling on the upturned vessel. The ferry started to sink in waters 12.8 kilometers south of Manjae Island in the Yellow Sea. The captain of the ferry radioed for help after his ship started to develop a 30 degree list. The Coast Guard cutter, which was operating in nearby waters to catch possible illegal fishing activities by Chinese boats, picked up the distress call.
The Coast Guard ship traveled at a maximum of 29 knots to reach the sinking ship 40 minutes after getting the message, and lowered its two zodiac boats that quickly rescued all the passengers and crew. The people rescued from the water, including some teachers, suffered from mild cases of hypothermia but none required emergency medical assistance and were taken to Mokpo harbor in good health. The Coast Guard said that the ferry, which regularly operates from Gageo Island and Mokpo, was permitted to carry both cargo and passengers and should not have sunk despite the adverse weather conditions.