The prosecutor ordered the detention of the captain of the sunken ferry in Korea

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 9:25:27 by
the sunken ferry in Korea

The captain of the ferry that sank two days ago in the southwest of South Korea and has so far left 28 dead and 268 missing, handed the helm to the official just before the ship went under, has informed South Korean prosecutors Friday and ordered the arrest of the head of the ship and two crew members. Meanwhile, some of the divers working on rescue efforts have gained access into the boat despite the heavy swell and poor visibility, but have not gotten close to the area where it is believed that the missing passengers were trapped. As the hours pass, the hope of finding any survivors is fading away.

Relatives continue with a mixture of despair and outrage on the limited progress in the search effort. Most travelers were school students southwest of Seoul, in a tragedy that has shocked South Koreans. The deputy director of the center where they studied, who had come out alive from the wreck, has appeared hanged on Friday in what appears to be a suicide. Kang Min- gyu, 52, had disappeared the day before. His dead body has been found hanging from a tree outside the gym in the port city of Jindo where relatives of the victims are concentrated.

Prosecutors in South Korea have requested an arrest warrant for the captain and two crew members of the ship, who abandoned ship without ensuring the safe commissioning of the passengers. Prosecutors believe that both the captain, Lee Jun- seok, 69, and the two crew broke the law with none or very little regards to the safety of most of the 475 passengers. Some testimonies of survivors claim that Lee delayed half an hour to evacuate the ship and he was the first to leave, sparking anger among relatives of the passengers.

Earlier, the prosecution had informed the captain had given the helm to another officer. “We have confirmed that the captain handed the helm Sewol official before the ship began to sink,”said the prosecutor leading the investigation, Park Jae- eok, at a press conference in the city of Mokpo (400 kilometers south of Seoul and 80 northwest of where the sinking). “Now we also investigated whether the captain left the cockpit “at the time of the accident, he added, quoted by Yonhap.

The testimony of one of the helmsmen, who was resting at the time of the accident, seems to confirm that the captain was not in the cockpit. “I’m not sure where I was before the accident. Yet right after I saw him running back to the cockpit in front of me” explained Oh Young- seok, from a hospital in the city of Mokpo.. “calmly asked how the ship was leaning, and tried to balance it, “he described.

The official identified by his surname Park, is a 26 year old woman who worked for four months to Chonghaejin, the shipping of the crashed ship, but had another 22 months experience in a ferry between South Korea and China, reported the local daily Chosun. Under South Korean law, any ferry over 3,000 tons (6,825 Sewol is) should be at the helm to an officer of at least the first or second rank.

It is believed that the ferry could have changed the route marked by the Government, and also have made a sharp change of direction, instead of turning gradually in the area where the incident occurred. According to experts, this violent turn could shift some of the weight to the side and eventually lead to the overturning of the ship, although the hypothesis that the collision was a rock which caused the collapse are also being considered.

Both the prosecution and the South Korean police are investigating the causes of the sinking of the ship, more than six tons, and carrying 475 passengers, most of them high school students from 16 to 17. The tragedy has shocked Korean society, because currently the official data recorded 179 rescued alive, 28 dead and 268 missing.

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