Almost exactly three years to the day after the sinking of the Sewol, the huge ore carrier Stellar Daisy, owned by Polaris Shipping, went down in the middle of the Atlantic, on its way to The Far East from Brazil.
And while the Sewol was recently salvaged and brought up, the Stellar Daisy went down with 22 on board.
The Stellar Daisy was full of iron ore, bound for the steel mills of China: 266,000 tons, to be precise.
This ship was almost bigger than South Korea itself. Measuring 312 meters in length by 58 meters in width, the Stellar Daisy, like the Titanic before it, was a colossal ship. And like the Titanic before it, it went down.
And it now rests, in at least two pieces, somewhere on the bottom of the southern Atlantic Ocean.
Two crew members, both Filipinos, have been rescued. The fate of eight other Koreans and 14 Filipinos becomes more definite every day.
According to the rescued seamen ― Oiler Renato Daymiel, and Able Bodied Seaman Jose Marie Cabrahan ― the crew heard a loud bang. A little bit later, cracks were seen in the hull. After the boat started listing to port, Daymiel and Cabrahan jumped into the sea. The rest of the crew were never seen again.
Theories as to what caused the ship to sink vary, but some experts think that the ship suffered a shift in cargo. That is one of the theories that took the ferry Sewol to the bottom.
A sister ship, the Stellar Unicorn, developed cracks and had to be repaired in Cape Town before completing its journey to China. It also had been converted to carry more weight.
Other theories cite liquefication of the iron ore. Liquefication is a process in which normally dry ore turns to liquid. This process has resulted in one-way tickets to Davy Jones' Locker for many ships throughout history.
A Facebook page called Seamen Online is full of anguished messages, including one from one man whose brother is among the missing.
The Earth still remains a big enough place to swallow up airliners and huge ships, with nary a clue as to their location. Our planet is still a wild and mysterious enough place to hold secrets in its deepest folds. And I think that is good to know, although we could do without the heartache and anguish and agony of finding out the hard way.
What was the ship doing in the middle of the Atlantic if it were to round Cape Horn and enter the Pacific on its way to China? It was closer to Africa than to South America when it went down. This is one question that burns in my mind.
What can we learn from this lesson? That the quest for riches causes unlimited human suffering. That the world remains to a large extent unexplored. That the unknown, both in physical and imaginary terms, still exists. The oceans are still capable of swallowing up a ship of this size, and that no matter how big one makes them, they will still go down.
Richard Ruffin writes from Curitiba, Brazil. Write to email@example.com.