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One South Korean woman was killed and 27 people were injured when a ferry hit what’s believed to be a whale off the coast of Busan late last week, according to local news reports.

The 75-year-old woman died of a cerebral hemorrhage after the accident early Thursday evening as the high-speed ferry approached the port.

The U.S. military revamped its noncombatant evacuation operation procedures after a similar incident in April 2005.

About 30 U.S. personnel — mainly family members — were on a commercial Korean ferry traveling to Japan on April 29, 2005, for a semi-annual test of the U.S. military’s ability to move noncombatants off the peninsula in case of an emergency when it what was believed to be a whale.

Some of the U.S. passengers spent about 40 minutes in a life raft before being transferred to South Korean rescue vessels.

After Stars and Stripes ran a story with their complaints — that U.S. Forces Korea failed to assist with medical follow-up appointments, post-trauma psychological counseling, chaplain’s visits or help submitting claims for lost property — the command revamped the process. Officials said changes were made to the staffing, equipment and communications methods for escort teams accompanying the volunteers and that emergency response teams and shelters were ready in case of a future mishap.

E-mail the Korea bureau at: koreabureau@pstripes.osd.mil

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