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Police, protesters clash over Sewol ferry disaster

Updated: 2015-04-20 09:57
By Reuters in Seoul (China Daily)

100 arrested, 12 taken to hospital in march demanding action

South Korean police clashed with thousands of protesters, blocking their way to the presidential palace, where they hoped to demand a more vigorous government response to a ferry disaster that claimed more than 300 lives a year ago.

About 13,000 police and 470 police buses were deployed in the area around Seoul's main ceremonial thoroughfare and 100 protesters were arrested, an official of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said.

Saturday's rally, organized by a group representing families of the victims, was the largest in recent weeks as the Republic of Korea marked the first anniversary of the Sewol disaster.

Police said they used buses to barricade marchers' route to the presidential Blue House, and deployed water cannons and pepper spray. Several police buses were damaged in the clash.

A fire department official said nine protesters and three police officers were hospitalized, and three protesters received first aid at the site.

The rally began at midday, with a crowd demanding the government allow an independent inquiry into the disaster and make an immediate decision to raise the Sewol ferry.

The ferry was on a routine journey from Incheon to the southern island of Jeju when it capsized after making a sharp turn and sank. Among the 304 victims were 250 students on a class trip. The ferry was later found to have been structurally unsound and overloaded with cargo.

Anger still runs high among the families of victims. They say the government let them down again this week by failing to announce by the first anniversary of the event a plan to raise the ferry.

President Park Geun-hye said on Thursday the government would begin preparing to raise the 6,800-metric-ton ship, her clearest indication yet of a retrieval plan, before she left on an 11-day trip to Latin America.


Police, protesters clash over Sewol ferry disaster

South Korean protesters clash with riot police on Saturday in Seoul during a rally to commemorate the first anniversary of the Sewol ferry disaster, which killed 304 people, including 250 students on a class trip. The clash occurred after protesters were prevented from marching to the president's residence.  Jung Yeonje / Agence France-Presse


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