The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) secretary-general Koji Sekimizu has called for its members to work together to improve safety policies that will help to prevent future passenger ship disasters.
Speaking in the aftermath of the Sewol tragedy, which occurred in South Korea on 16 April 2014, Sekimizu expressed his hope that IMO be informed about the cause of the incident. He explained that this was particularly relevant if the continuing investigation revealed the need for the IMO’s existing safety standards and recommendations to be improved at an international level.
During his opening address to the IMO Legal Committee, Sekimizu also referred to a number of accidents involving domestic ferries in developing countries in recent years. He highlighted that the IMO has a specific project on domestic ferry safety, which is also part of its Technical Cooperation Programme.
“I have the opinion that the time has now come for IMO to step forward to take action to improve the safety of passenger ships carrying hundreds of the general public, regardless of the nature of their voyage, whether domestic or international,” said Sekimizu. “Only IMO can take such action.”
Delegates at the IMO’s Legal Committee also observed a minute’s silence for the 187 confirmed victims of the Sewol accident, as well as more than 100 missing people. The ferry, which was carrying around 474 passengers and crew, capsized and sank near Jeju island on South Korea’s south-west coast on 16 April at around 9.00am local time. Around 179 passengers and crew were rescued.