UK

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won Offers Resignation Over Ferry Sinking

27/04/2014 08:46 BST | Updated 27/04/2014 09:59 BST

The prime minister of South Korea has offered his resignation over the ferry disaster that has left hundreds confirmed or presumed dead, saying "the cries of those still missing keep me up at night".

Chung Hong-hun said he was resigning over the failure to prevent the accident and his government's handling of the sinking of the Sewol ferry on April 16, in which 187 people are confirmed to have died but more than 100 more remain missing.

The recovery process has proven agonisingly slow. On Easter Sunday, relatives of those still missing clashed with police as they tried to stage a symbolic march to Seoul to protest the government's handling of it.

Sky News has reported that some recovered bodies have been sent to the wrong families and Mr Chong received a hostile reception when he visited the site of the disaster the day after the sinking.

chung hongwon

Chung Hong-won offered his resignation over the the Sewol ferry sinking

According to broadcaster, the PM said: "As I saw grieving families suffering with the pain of losing their loved ones and the sadness and resentment of the public, I thought I should take all responsibility as prime minister."

"The right thing for me to do is to take responsibility and resign as a person who is in charge of the cabinet," Mr Chung said in a brief statement, the BBC reported.

"On behalf of the government, I apologise for many problems from the prevention of the accident to the early handling of the disaster."

"There have been so many varieties of irregularities that have continued in every corner of our society and practices that have gone wrong. I hope these deep-rooted evils get corrected this time and this kind of accident never happens again."

It is for President Park Geun-hye to decide whether to accept the resignation offer.

Many of those on board the ferry were school children. On Saturday, the bodies of 48 young girls wearing lifejackets were discovered in a single 30-capacity cabin of the ferry.