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South Korea ferry disaster: Rapid direction change, route deviation may be cause

Published on Apr 17, 2014 10:18 AM

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The sunken South Korea ferry "Sewol" deviated from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries-recommended route, the Coast Guard said on Thursday.

In addition, speculation has risen that steering too sharply was the cause of the accident.

According to reports, the Coast Guard investigators suspect that the ship changed directly too quickly, causing cargo to come loose and push the vessel off balance.

The site of the accident is said to be near the point where ships on the Incheon-Jejudo route change directions.

South Korean relatives of passengers on board a capsized ferry waiting for news at a gym in Jindo on April 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

Nearly 300 people, many of them high school students, are missing and feared dead after the ferry sank just a few hours from its destination, sparking a massive search and leaving the country in shock.

South Korea ferry sinking mapThe Sewol, carrying 459 passengers, left Incheon port on Tuesday night for the resort island of Jeju, a journey that takes 12 to 14 hours.

Based on the accounts provided by crew members, the investigators suspect that the Sewol sharply changed direction when a more gradual change was required.

The ship was carrying 180 vehicles and 1,157 metric tons of cargo.

As the ship lost balance, its steering equipment is thought to have malfunctioned.

With new evidence emerging, the authorities now suspect that the loud bang survivors reportedly heard just before the ferry began sinking was made by cargo that had come loose.

Accounts from survivors had led to speculation that the Sewol may have hit a reef when it sent out an emergency signal at 8.55am on Wednesday.