Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday not so good

The news about the Korean ferry disaster continues to worsen, but rescuers still hold out some hope. A quick update: according to the Korean news source, (1) the death toll has climbed to 26 as bodies are being found floating on the sea, away from the boat (these could be passengers who jumped away from the boat and died of hypothermia, or they could be passengers who drowned inside the ferry and have floated to the surface because of natural eddies and sea currents); (2) the long-awaited floating cranes are coming to the scene, one by one, and will soon undertake the difficult task of righting the ferry; (3) rescuers have successfully penetrated the ferry up to its mess hall but have found no survivors; (4) the process of injecting air into the vessel has begun.

It may be too little, too late for any people who had survived the initial capsizing and sinking of the ferry, which met its fate not far from Jindo, at the southwestern tip of the Korean peninsula. The water is reported to have gotten cold during the night, and at this point it's been more than 24 hours since the crisis began. Hypothermia will have set in for most of the initial survivors, and only those with a great deal of native toughness will still be alive at this point. I'm not too hopeful on that score.

Quite possibly the most hurtful comment I've seen was written at The Marmot's Hole:

The Japanese sailed the vessel in question safely for 18 years. Koreans had it for a couple weeks and killed 300 kids. This is sadly not surprising to anyone who has visited both nations.

The thrust of the comment seems to be that Koreans are clumsy, butter-fingered bunglers while the Japanese are adroit and competent. I'm not sure how true that is, given what we're still finding out about radiation leakage at Fukushima and its effects on the global environment, a situation that Japan has handled in a less-than-ideal way.


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