Updated: 07/29/2014 17:24 | By Agence France-Presse

S. Korea ferry survivors used fire hoses to escape sinking vessel

Student survivors of South Korea's ferry disaster testified Tuesday how passengers, abandoned by the crew, improvised means of escape, using fire hoses to pull people to safety as the vessel sank.


S. Korea ferry survivors used fire hoses to escape sinking vessel

This file image taken on April 16, 2014 shows the South Korea Coast Guard rescuing some of the passengers and crew aboard the Sewol ferry that sank on its way to Jeju island from Incheon - by South Korea Coast Guard

On a second day of student testimony in the trial of the Sewol ferry's captain and 14 crew, more than a dozen high school teenagers recalled the trauma of the April 16 tragedy that killed 250 of their classmates.

One spoke of how she was saved by the actions of an adult passenger as sea water flooded into the heavily listing ferry.

"At first, someone lowered a strip of window curtain that I grabbed on to, but then I slipped back down," the student said.

"Then a passenger threw me a fire hose and I tied it around my hips and he pulled me up," she added.

The charges against the Sewol crew arise from their decision to abandon ship while hundreds of people were still trapped inside.

Captain Lee Joon-Seok and three senior crew members are accused of "homicide through wilful negligence" -- a charge that can carry the death penalty.

Eleven others are being tried on lesser violations of maritime law.

Of the 476 people on board the Sewol when it capsized, 325 were Dawon High School pupils on an organised outing. Only 75 of them escaped.

Another student said she and several classmates had been trapped inside a cabin by falling luggage as the 6,825-tonne ferry keeled over on to one side.

Passengers from an adjoining cabin heard their shouts and managed to force the door open and pull them into the corridor.

"They calmed us down and made a rope with curtain material. Then one man climbed up and pulled us out," she said.

They were eventually plucked off the sinking ferry by a coastguard helicopter.

- Students 'swallowed up' -

The national coastguard was widely criticised for its initial response to the disaster, and state prosecutors said Tuesday they had detained the captain of one patrol boat that was on the scene for questioning.

He could face charges of falsifying public records for allegedly doctoring the rescue log to show his unit's response in a better light, the prosecutors said.

Tuesday's court testimony echoed that of the day before, with each student stressing the lack of help from any crew member, and describing repeated tannoy messages telling passengers to stay put even as the ship was sinking.

All the students chose to give their testimony in court, although they had been offered the option of testifying by video.

The trial opened six weeks ago in the southern city of Gwangju, but the judges and lawyers decamped to a court in Ansan city, south of Seoul, for a special two-day session with the students.

The Dawon High School is located in Ansan.

Another student witness spoke of watching a group of classmates being "swallowed up" by the water as it surged in and out of the ferry.

Most were wearing life jackets and were able to rise with the water level when the sea first flooded in through the windows.

But then a shift caused the waters to surge towards the ferry's interior and "many students were swept away and swallowed up," he said.

He was only saved because his foot was trapped in a door frame and when the water started rising again he was freed and managed to climb out of the vessel.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。