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Possible dereliction of duty and more probed in ferry disaster

There was a time when the concept of "Duck and Cover" was associated with nuclear attack during the cold war. Older readers of this blog will know what we mean.

When we witness apparent signs of duck and cover these days, especially if it's associated with some sort of disastrous event, the question that demands to be asked is, what are those engaged in such goings-on trying to hide? Are they seeking to avoid being held accountable for some apparent instance of negligence?

This question appears to be among those being asked by officials in South Korea in the wake of the tragic ferry boat sinking. Nearly 200 victims' bodies have been recovered since the April 16 disaster. More than 100 individuals are still unaccounted for.

Certainly the key question authorities always want to answer in any boating accident is how it could have happened. Was there recklessness or negligence of crewmembers on board? Was there a failure on the part of emergency officials to respond appropriately? Did the boat suffer some failure due to improper maintenance?

Anyone who suffers as a result of such an apparent case of massive wrongful death, regardless of whether it occurs in South Korea or San Diego, deserves answers to those questions and more.

Since the sinking, it's been suggested that the young officer at the helm somehow made an error by turning the large vessel too sharply for the speed it was going. In the subsequent days, the argument has been made that the officer's orders were proper and that perhaps there was a problem with the ship's steering gear.

The ship's captain and 14 members of the crew have been arrested in the case. And the latest word today is that South Korean officials have arrested three individuals of the Korea Shipping Association, a trade group. They're reportedly suspected of having destroyed evidence related to the company that owns and operated the ferry.

According to South Korea's state-run news agency, the office where the three worked was the first to receive a distress call from an 18-year-old male ferry passenger. Authorities want to determine if there was any dereliction of duty.

Source: CNN, "3 arrested over evidence, call center raided in South Korea ferry probe," Holly Yan, Josh Levs and Steven Jiang, April 28, 2014
Source: The Big Story, "Prof: Ferry turned further than 3rd mate ordered," Hung-Jin Kim, April 23, 2014

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