Lawmakers grill public safety and security minister for recent string of accidents
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Representatives from the two main rival political camps criticized the government's poor initial handling of a fishing boat accident that left over a dozen people dead and six missing when it capsized earlier this month.
The lawmakers grilled the nation's public safety minister for failing to quickly send in a special rescue team‚ which arrived on site roughly six hours after the request was made.
The ministry's annual report to the president earlier this year states that rescue crews should arrive on site within 30 minutes for accidents on land and within an hour for those at sea.
"There is a precondition to the 'golden hour' rule. We assumed that special sea-rescue teams were set up for both the East and West Sea. But we still didn't have rescue teams on both seas‚ and we needed to rely on helicopters to send the teams to the accident site. Due to inclement weather‚ the helicopters couldn't operate that day and the rescue team had to get there by motor vehicle."
Lawmakers criticized the government for its lax response and pointed to other problems during the initial response‚ including the accusation that officials did not give serious enough consideration to the situation when they first noticed the boat's positioning signals were missing.
"Why was the Ministry of Public Safety and Security launched last year? Wasn't it to prevent another tragedy like the Sewol-ho ferry disaster from ever happening again? But the insensitivity to safety is still rampant."
Another point of contention was the lack of fire and rescue gear for the nation's firefighters.
"Firefighters have to share their uniforms‚ as there aren't enough of them‚ and they buy gloves with their own money‚ which is a threat to their safety."
The lawmaker continued by saying that‚ although the government plans to spend over 5-hundred million U.S. dollars by 2017 for fire and rescue gear‚ a stronger system for monitoring the procurement process is needed due to the chronic corruption at the nation's fire stations.
PARK Ji-won‚ Arirang News. Reporter : firstname.lastname@example.org