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South Korea to disband coastguard in response to Sewol tragedy

The South Korean President says she will dismantle the country’s coastguard in response to its failings in the Sewol tragedy.

In a tearful television address on Monday President Park Geun-hye took ultimate responsibility for the South Korea’s worst maritime accident in 20 years.

"I apologise to the nation for the pain and suffering that everyone felt, as the president who should have been responsible for the safety and lives of the people," she said.

The ferry with 476 onboard, capsized killing at least 286 with 18 still missing. Only 176 survived including most of the vessel’s crew abandoned ship.

In her address Park singled out the role of the coastguard. "Had there been an immediate and proactive rescue operation after the accident, we would have been able to reduce the casualties," Park said.

"I have decided to dismantle the coastguard."

The investigative duties of the coastguard will be handed over to the police while its maritime patrol operations will be given to a newly-created Ministry of National Safety.

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