Salvage work on the capsized Sewol ferry has been halted for a second time by bad weather.
South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said today that divers and other personnel working on the ferry had begun to take shelter from tropical storm Dujuan. Forecasts are that this could strengthen into a typhoon.
Taiwan, China and Japan are also monitoring the path of Dujuan, which moved into the Philippines yesterday. No impact on shipping was reported.
Work on Sewol was previously suspended on 24 August when Typhoon Goni struck.
Related news: Salvage divers complete first Sewol inspection
A consortium comprising Chinese state-owned Shanghai Salvage and South Korean subsea specialist Ocean C&I is salvaging Sewol, which capsized on 16 April 2014 during a routine Incheon-Jeju trip. Of the 476 passengers and crew, 295 were killed and nine bodies remain missing.
At present, Shanghai Salvage has deployed salvage vessel Da Li and towboat Hua He to the site, while Ocean C&I has deployed the barges Hyundai Boryeong and Haeryeong.
The initial inspection to determine the movement of stowed cargoes and the leakage of residual fuel oil was completed on 16 September, allowing work on hoisting the ferry to begin.
The Chinese have deployed up to 30 divers to the site and 60 more could be sent in because of the sheer size of the 6,835 gt Sewol.
Hyundai Boryeong and Haeryong were expected to arrive at the designated shelter, which is near Paengmok port on Jindo island in South Jeolla province, in the afternoon of 24 September.
Da Li and Hua He will start preparing to evacuate the site from the early hours of 25 September and have been instructed to take shelter in an area 2 km east of the salvage works. The vessels are expected to arrive in the early hours of 26 September.
South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries will continue monitoring weather reports and said it would do its best to prevent damage to cranes and related equipment as these are moved to safer locations.
Salvage work will resume once the storm ends.