Korean Ferry Captain's Detention Could Extend As Death Toll Mounts

Posted by Joseph R. Fonseca
Sunday, April 20, 2014

 

South Korean prosecutors investigating a ferry disaster said on Sunday they would seek to extend the detention of the ship's captain and two other crew by 10 days as they tried to determine the cause of an accident that may claim more than 300 lives.

The ferry, the Sewol, was on a 400-km (300-mile) voyage from Incheon to the southern holiday island of Jeju in calm weather when it turned, listed sharply and then began to sink early on Wednesday.

The ship was being steered by the third mate, on her first passage helming through the waters, and the captain was not on the bridge at the time.

Out of the 476 passengers and crew, 339 were pupils or teachers from a high school in Ansan, a commuter city outside Seoul.

Divers gained access to the passenger quarters of the sunken vessel overnight for the first time and by midday on Sunday the total of confirmed deaths to had risen to 50, with 252 passengers, most of them children, still missing.

The 20-year old ferry took more than two hours to sink but passengers were ordered to stay put in their cabins. So far, 174 passengers are known to have survived the capsize.

"We are trying to find out if there is additional negligence," Prosecutor Yang Joong-jin told a news conference in Mokpo, one of the centres for the investigation.

When the crew were arrested on Saturday, they were detained by police for 10 days and prosecutors for a further 10. If the extension is granted, they could be detained for 30 days.

Yang said that prosecutors had also summoned 10 other people to give evidence, including other crew from the Sewol and officials from the ferry's owner,Chonghaejin Marine Co Ltd.

The death toll mounted steadily on Sunday as more divers gained access to the passenger quarters of the ferry with the help of ropes to guide them through the murky water.

"We are now putting in four guide lines, before there was only one, so their access will become faster," Ko Myung-suk, a coast guard official, told a news briefing in the rescue centre in the port of Jindo.

A naval sailor also died on Saturday on a boat on the way out to help in the search, a naval official said.

ANGUISH AND FRUSTRATION

Relatives of those still listed as missing, but who are now presumed to be dead, clashed briefly with police when about 100 of them tried to leave the island by a road bridge to the mainland to take their protest to the capital city of Seoul.

Police blocked them and they later turned back.

"Bring me the body," weeping mother Bae Sun-ok said of her child as she was comforted by two policemen at the bridge.

More than 500 parents of the school children and relatives of other people missing have spent four days and nights cooped up in a gymnasium in the port city of Jindo, which is the centre of the rescue operations.

Tempers have frayed over the slow pace of the recovery and frequent changes in information.

President Park Geun-hye was booed by some of the relatives when she visited the gym on Thursday.

Captain Lee Joon-seok, 69, was arrested on Saturday on charges of negligence for quitting the ship while leaving passengers on board along with two other crew members, including the third mate.

Lee told television cameras when he was arrested that he feared passengers would be swept away by the strong tides in the area and did not order a general evacuation.

He has not said why he left the ship when the passengers were instructed to remain on board.

Pupils at the school in Ansan, a gritty commuter town, set up shrines to the dead and posted messages for the missing.

The vice-principal of the school, who was on the ferry and survived the capsize, hanged himself outside the gymnasium in Jindo in another blow to the school and his body was discovered on Friday.

The sinking looks set to be the country's worst maritime disaster in 21 years in terms of loss of life.

(Additional reporting by Chookyung Kim and Sanggyu Lim; Writing by David Chance; Editing by Sandra Maler and Robert Birsel)

Maritime Reporter April 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Legal

BIMCO Welcomes EU Decision on Migrants

BIMCO has stated today that it appreciates the new efforts by EU leaders to reduce increasing reliance on merchant shipping to rescue the growing numbers of

Long Beach, Los Angeles ports host forum to gather input

More than 100 cargo owners, trucking firm leaders, longshore labor, marine terminals and other goods movement industry representatives turned out Wednesday for

Arctic Nations to Fight Climate Change Despite Russia Tensions

The eight Arctic Council nations pledged on Friday to do more to combat climate change that is shrinking the vast frigid region, with countries trying to put

Energy

Skangass Celebrates Topping Up

Nordic liquefied natural gas operator Skangass  has celebrated a topping out ceremony at its Pori LNG terminal. The company said it was making progress in the

Falklands' Oil Drilling at Isobel Deep Suspended

Oil explorers drilling in the waters north of the Falkland Islands have suspended work on the second well of their 2015 current six-well drilling campaign after a technical problem.

H-Energy to Build Floating LNG Terminal in West Bengal and Canada

Business Standard reported that real estate developer Hiranandani Group plans to set up a INR 2,400 crore floating LNG import terminal off Haldia, West Bengal

Casualties

Two Rescued from Sinking Shrimp Boat

Two fishermen were rescued from their sinking shrimp boat by a U.S. Coast Guard aircrew Friday off the coast of Saint Simons Island near Brunswic, Georgia.   Watchstanders

Judge Orders Migrant Boat to Remain in Custody

An Italian judge on Friday ordered that the presumed captain of a migrant boat that sank with the loss of more than 700 lives should remain in custody after prosecutors

Grounding Kills 1, Injures 2 in Charleston Harbor

One person was killed and two people were injured when a boat ran aground on Shutes Folly off Charleston, South Carolina, late Thursday evening, the U.S. Coast Guard reported.

News

BIMCO Welcomes EU Decision on Migrants

BIMCO has stated today that it appreciates the new efforts by EU leaders to reduce increasing reliance on merchant shipping to rescue the growing numbers of

Long Beach, Los Angeles ports host forum to gather input

More than 100 cargo owners, trucking firm leaders, longshore labor, marine terminals and other goods movement industry representatives turned out Wednesday for

Arctic Nations to Fight Climate Change Despite Russia Tensions

The eight Arctic Council nations pledged on Friday to do more to combat climate change that is shrinking the vast frigid region, with countries trying to put

Ferries

Venezuela Probes ex-minister accused of corruption in Ferry Deals

A former minister in President Nicolas Maduro's government denied in an interview published on Friday accusations of corruption during the purchase of three

IMO: Making Ferries Safer

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) domestic ferry safety conference in Manila April 24 has adopted guidelines to aid the process of reducing the mounting

Spanish Ferry Operator Enrolls in Carbon Credits Program

Spanish ferry operator Baleària has signed up to AkzoNobel’s carbon credits program. The company has enrolled its passenger ferry Martin i Soler into the scheme,

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Navigation Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Repair Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2179 sec (5 req/sec)