SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The families of the victims who lost their lives or went missing on the sunken ferry Sewol issued a statement on Friday, calling for stepped-up search and rescue efforts.
The following is the full text of the statement:
We would like to appeal with tears to rest of the public as we feel furious at the government's behaviour.
We received the shocking news at 9am on Wednesday and heard that everyone was rescued at noon. We came here to see the children, but the actual situation left us speechless.
At 5.30pm when 82 survivors - 74 students, three teachers and five others - arrived at the gymnasium, no officials who could accurately update us on the situation were around. The situation room was not even formed.
What we wanted to know the current situation was (sic). But there was no one who could responsibly order directions or explain the situation to us. Our children would have been shouting out for help under the cold water at the same time this was going on.
At 7pm we formed a temporary counter-measure team and tried to visit the scene in two teams with private divers. But the authorities did not let us leave the shore and banned us from entering.
Angered parents provoked uproar and asked to send us anyone who is in charge (of the rescue operation) but no one responded.
After 10pm, children were dying and no rescue operation was underway. Despite our continuous requests, the authorities replied that the lives (of the rescue workers) would be threatened due to high currents, after promising that the search work would be resumed at 1am.
The military and police operate under commands. Parents and private divers cried out but they did not accept our request.
On Thursday, we finally visited the scene but we saw less than 200 people working on the search operation. Only two helicopters, two military warships two maritime guard ships, six special forces vessels and eight private rescue workers were involved in the search operation. But the government lied at 9am, saying that over 550 workers, 121 helicopters and 69 ships were supporting the search and rescue work.
This is the true reality of Korea, ladies and gentlemen. Please help us to save our children.