Anger, grief and despair among South Korean ferry relatives

Relatives of a passenger aboard a sunken ferry weep as they wait for news on the rescue operation, at a port in Jindo, South Korea, 17 April 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Families expressed their anguish as they waited for news on the rescue operation

The small port of Paeng-Mok is the centre of rescue efforts. It is where the coast guard is launching boats that are heading to the submerged ferry more than 20km (12 miles) away.

The port is also where many relatives of the missing are waiting for news about loved ones. Anger, grief and despair are all on display here.

When I arrived the police had surrounded a man wearing only trunks and swimming goggles. He was deranged with grief and appeared prepared to do anything to find his child.

The police were trying to prevent him for jumping into the sea and launching a futile one-man rescue operation.

Some relatives urged him to calm down, saying that his actions were not helping anyone.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Students at Danwon High School held up messages of hope for the safe return of their classmates

The government and various aid agencies have set up dozens of stalls to provide a modicum of shelter and comfort for the relatives. There is a first aid station; a food stall stacked with pots of noodles; a shelter were you can charge your phones and computers.

In the background, there is a constant hum of generators powering up a bank of satellite trunks. All the South Korean broadcasters are broadcasting round-the-clock coverage and the eyes of the nation are on this search and rescue operation.

At one stage, dozens of relatives surrounded a coastguard official who was giving an update on the rescue operation.

During a heated exchange, some family members demanded to know why more flares and floodlights had not been used to light up the night sky.

Other relatives, wrapped in blankets, sit on plastic chairs waiting for news. But grief is never far from the surface.

Standing beside one tent, I heard a woman inside sobbing uncontrollably.

Related Topics

More on this story