Friday, July 31, 2015   

Curtains, fire hoses save SKorea ferry survivors
(07-29 17:02)

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.
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. --AFP   
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