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South Korea's Park Apologizes for Ferry Disaster

  • VOA News

A mourner cries while assisted by an usher as she pays tribute to victims of sunken passenger ship Sewol, at the official memorial altar for the victims in Ansan, April 29, 2014.

A mourner cries while assisted by an usher as she pays tribute to victims of sunken passenger ship Sewol, at the official memorial altar for the victims in Ansan, April 29, 2014.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has apologized for what she says is her government's "insufficient" response to the ferry tragedy that left over 300 people dead or missing.

Speaking to her cabinet Tuesday, President Park also apologized for the the failure to prevent the April 16 accident. She promised increased safety standards and the formation of a government agency to respond to large-scale disasters.

"I should apologize for being unable to prevent the accident and for the insufficiency in taking initial action. I wonder if this apology will be able to comfort those who were hurt and ease their pain, as it breaks my heart. I apologize with a heavy heart to the nation's citizens that so many precious lives were lost due to this accident," said Park.

Divers have recovered 193 bodies as they work their way through the sunken Sewol ferry, which was carrying mostly high school students. Over 100 more passengers are missing and presumed dead.

Many family members of the victims are angry that the rescue and recovery mission has taken so long, saying more should have been done to save the lives of those trapped on board the ship.

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won has submitted his resignation over the incident, but will not step down until the situation is under control. This is the first time that Park has issued an apology.

There is also widespread anger at the ship's crew members, almost all of whom abandoned the ship before a proper evacuation took place. Some of the crew have been arrested.
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