Tuesday, April 29, 2014


As of this writing, 193 bodies have been retrieved from the Sewol ferry disaster. At this point, I'm pretty sure that all the rest of the missing are dead. It's simply a matter of how much time has passed, combined with the mortal limits of human endurance. Any "air pockets" would have lost their ability to sustain life by now, if living people had been using them. Hypothermia probably claimed the lives of most of the trapped students and adults early on, and random corpses continue to float out of the ship and into the open sea. Rescuers have strung nets, kilometers long, far from the site of the sinking in order to catch the bodies that might have drifted from the downed vessel; one can only hope that the nets are both wide and deep enough to intercept the lost.

I couldn't help noticing that the rate at which the body count has been ticking upward has slowed. I don't know, exactly, what this might imply. At worst, it means the rest of the bodies have already been carried away from the Sewol by random currents and are eddying into the dark distance. If that's the case, and if bodies slip past the nets, a full accounting may never be possible, and some families will be unable to experience the necessary closure that comes with knowing, definitively, that a loved one has perished.

At this point, all that I can do is what I've already been doing: just wait and see. The rescue—more like a salvage or a simple recovery, at this point—will proceed at its ordained pace, and Korea will continue to mourn.

On Twitter, I saw the following poignant image, which symbolizes the sadness of the parents who have lost their children:

I'm sure that many of those grieving parents wish they had the miraculous power to raise the ship and extract their children, alive or dead. I wish they had that power, too, but that's not the reality. Right now, the reality is a number: 193.

UPDATE: In the hours since the above post was written, the death toll has hopped up to 205. Twelve more bodies have been found.


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