Why the Temperature of the Yellow Sea Is a Big Deal, and Other Questions About the South Korean Ferry Disaster
The boat ran into trouble several dozen miles from Jindo, an island that sticks out of South Korea’s southwestern corner like a little toe. Jindo is surrounded by a group of even smaller islands that are slightly farther afield from the mainland. The ferry was curving around those small islands at the time it issued a distress call.
What caused the disaster?
We don’t yet know, and it’s important not to turn the few pieces of information into something conclusive. But some passengers report feeling a jolt or hearing a loud noise just before the ferry began to capsize. This would be consistent with the ferry running aground or colliding with a rock or some other enormous object.
How cold is the water?
Various reports place the water at 50 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit. One emergency official told the Associated Press that a survivor could develop hypothermia after 90 minutes in such waters. Many of the survivors were rushed to Jindo Island and were given thick blankets and dry clothing.