December 19, 2014
S.Korea: Prosecutors seek to arrest ferry captain
Prosecutors in South Korea have asked a court to issue an arrest warrant for the captain and two crew members of the ferry that sank on Wednesday, for abandoning the vessel before making sure the passengers were safe.
They believe that the captain, 69 year-old Lee Jun-seok and the crew members broke the law by being evacuated before the 475 passengers from the vessel that was on a 400-kilometers voyage from the port city of Incheon to the Korean holiday island of Jeju.
"The joint investigation team of police and prosecutors asked for warrants to arrest three crew, including the captain," a coast guard official in Makpo told AFP.
Lee Jun-seokship has come under scrutiny after witnesses said he was among the first to escape the sinking. But according to investigators, Captain Lee Joon-seok was not on the bridge at the time the Sewol ferry started to list sharply, with a junior officer at the wheel.
The vice principal of a South Korean high school who accompanied hundreds of his pupils on what turned out to be a disastrous ferry trip has committed suicide, as hopes faded of finding any of the missing passengers alive.
Kang Min-gyu, 52, missing since yesterday, appeared to have hanged himself with his belt from a tree outside a gym in the port city of Jindo where relatives of the people missing on the ship, mostly children from the school, were gathered.
Police said Kang did not leave a suicide note and that they started looking for him after he was reported missing by a fellow-teacher. He was rescued from the ferry after it capsized.
Of the 475 passengers and crew on the ferry, 28 people had been officially been declared dead before Kang's suicide and 179 were rescued. The overwhelming majority of the missing are students from the Danwon High School on the outskirts of Seoul, who were on a holiday trip.
Divers are fighting strong tides and murky waters to get to the sunken ship but the likelihood of finding any of the missing alive is slim.