South Korea chooses China consortium to lift Sewol ferry

South Korea has chosen a consortium led by China’s state-run Shanghai Salvage Co. as the preferred bidder to raise the Sewol passenger ferry which sank off Jindo Island on April 16, 2014, the country’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) said in a statement.

The consortium of Shanghai Salvage and an unnamed South Korean company beat six other consortia competing for the contract.

The 6,825-ton ferry sank in 44 meters of water, killing 304 people, 250 of whom were high school students.

MOF said that the selection process focused mostly on the bidders’ ability to safely raise the ferry without any further damages to the ship, which is believed to hold the bodies of the last nine passengers still unaccounted for.

The salvage operations are expected to start in September. Once started, the salvage is expected to last for about one year. MOF initially estimated the salvage costs to be around USD 139 million, however, Shanghai Salvage reportedly offered to raise the ferry for around USD 75 million.

China Yantai Salvage has been selected as a back-up should further negotiations with Shanghai Salvage fail, MOF said.

South Korea announced plans to salvage the sunken ferry back in April, following public protests that marked the first anniversary of the tragedy, and increasing demands from the families of the victims for the ferry to be raised.

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