S.Korean Ferry Master Faces Investigation

Joseph Keefe
Thursday, April 17, 2014

The captain of the South Korean ferry that capsized off the southwest coast was facing a criminal investigation on Thursday, an official said, amid unconfirmed reports that he was one of the first people to jump to safety as the vessel began sinking.

The Sewol ferry was carrying 475 passengers and crew when it capsized on Wednesday. The government has said nine people were found dead and 179 had been rescued, leaving about 290 people, most of them teenaged school children, missing and possibly trapped in the vessel.

The captain, identified as Lee Joon-seok, 69, is being questioned by the coastguard and is the subject of a criminal investigation, a coastguard official said.

Media reports said he was facing the possibility of charges of negligence leading to death and also for violating a law that stipulates the conduct of shipping crew. Coastguard officials could not be reached for further details.

"It's still an early stage and we're questioning the circumstances," said one coastguard official in the town of Mokpo, which is the centre of the investigation.

Television showed the captain sitting hunched over, wearing a hooded jacket, at the coastguard centre in Mokpo on Thursday.

"I apologise to the passengers and victims and families," he said, declining to answer questions about what happened and why he abandoned the ship when he did.

Coastguard investigators have not given reporters access to the captain since then.

Lee was filling in for the regular captain, who was on leave, but had been at sea for 40 years and had travelled on the route before, ferry operator Chonghaejin said.

No survivor has been able to specify exactly when the captain left the vessel although several said he left early. At the time, other witnesses said, the crew was asking passengers to remain calm and stay where they were.

"MAD AS HELL"


One survivor told a South Korean television station: "I was one of the first ones to jump on a coastguard boat and there were several others, and I heard from one of the rescuers that the captain was on the boat before me."

Other survivors also said the captain was one of the first to be rescued. Coastguard officials declined to comment when asked for confirmation.

The ferry operator declined to comment on the captain's action, saying it was under investigation by the coastguard.

Families of the missing were outraged at the reports of the captain being one of the first to jump ship.

"It's despicable and I'm mad as hell, but this is really not the time to talk blame, it's the rescue of these kids that comes first," said Lee Yong-ki, father of one of the missing children.

About half of the 30 crew members have been rescued.

It took the ferry about two hours to sink and most of the survivors were those who made it out on to the deck and then waited for help, holding on to the rails, or jumped into the sea to be picked up by rescue boats.

The crew was appealing to the passengers to remain where they were when it started sinking.

"It is outrageous that they didn't tell people to get out," said Choi Min-ji, one of the high school students who survived.

"They kept saying 'stay put' even when the water was coming in. I almost got trapped too and barely came out alive. If they did it (told people to get out) there would have been fewer casualties."

Another survivor, Lee Tae-ju, 68, said some people believed the order to stay put sounded reasonable at the time.

"The ship was listing sharply, so I would have tried to tell people to stay put if I were them, just to keep calm. What can you do? In any case, the ship was listing so sharply it would have been almost impossible to get out."

 

By Narae Kim

 

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

Legal

Sea Urchin Haven Disturbed by Oil Spill

Stephanie Mutz makes a living plucking sea urchins from the Santa Barbara coast and selling the prickly treasure to upscale restaurants in Southern California.

5 Tunisian Migrants Die in Shipwreck

At least five Tunisian migrants died on Saturday when their boat sailing to Italy capsized off the Tunisian coast, officials said. "A migrant boat carrying

Oil-coated Pelicans Being cleaned at Rehab Center

Several petroleum-stained pelicans rescued from the blackened muck of California's latest oil spill spent the day on Friday being gently, painstakingly scrubbed

Navigation

Seaway to Receive Prestigious OECD Award

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced today that it will receive a prestigious award from the Organization for Economic Cooperation

IMO Adopts Polar Code Environmental Provisions

United Nations' International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted the environmental part of the Polar Code. Hereby, internationally binding regulations on

NAVTOR AS, Nautic AB Launch Complete Navigation Solution

E-navigation specialist NAVTOR has joined forces with Nautic AB, a provider of navigational equipment, charts and publications to the Swedish market, to launch NAVTOR NAUTIC AB.

Salvage

Oil Leak Contained at MV Miner Site

On-site workers acted quickly to contain an oil leak during the final stages of removing the wreck of the MV Miner off Scaterie Island, says the government of Canada’s Nova Scotia province.

Indonesia Sinks Boats from China

According to The China People's Daily, Indonesia has just sank a large Chinese vessel and 40 other foreign ships caught fishing in The South China Sea.    The

Norwegian Cruise Ship Ran Aground off Bermuda

The Norwegian Dawn cruise ship with more than 3,700 people on board ran aground in Bermuda after the vessel temporarily lost power.   Small boats, divers and

Casualties

Sea Urchin Haven Disturbed by Oil Spill

Stephanie Mutz makes a living plucking sea urchins from the Santa Barbara coast and selling the prickly treasure to upscale restaurants in Southern California.

5 Tunisian Migrants Die in Shipwreck

At least five Tunisian migrants died on Saturday when their boat sailing to Italy capsized off the Tunisian coast, officials said. "A migrant boat carrying

Oil-coated Pelicans Being cleaned at Rehab Center

Several petroleum-stained pelicans rescued from the blackened muck of California's latest oil spill spent the day on Friday being gently, painstakingly scrubbed

Coast Guard

5 Tunisian Migrants Die in Shipwreck

At least five Tunisian migrants died on Saturday when their boat sailing to Italy capsized off the Tunisian coast, officials said. "A migrant boat carrying

USCG Assists Sinking Vessel East of Nantucket

The Coast Guard is responding to a fishing boat taking on water 130 miles east of Nantucket, Massachusetts, Saturday. At about 12:45 a.m., the fishing vessel

Alaska, Washington to build Arctic Icebreakers

Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, and Senator Maria Cantwell, Washington, have introduced a bill that would authorize the Navy to build up six icebreakers for use by the U.

Maritime Safety

5 Tunisian Migrants Die in Shipwreck

At least five Tunisian migrants died on Saturday when their boat sailing to Italy capsized off the Tunisian coast, officials said. "A migrant boat carrying

Oil-coated Pelicans Being cleaned at Rehab Center

Several petroleum-stained pelicans rescued from the blackened muck of California's latest oil spill spent the day on Friday being gently, painstakingly scrubbed

Launch of First Future Destroyer, Hobart

Speech delivered by the Minister for Defence, Kevin Andrews during the launch of Hobart - the first future destroyer: Thank you for being here on this very important day.

Government Update

Solarworld Wants Duties on Chinese Solar Goods in U.S. Extended

German solar manufacturer SolarWorld will apply to the United States for an extension of duties on Chinese panel imports that are due to end this year, weekly Euro am Sonntag said.

Alaska, Washington to build Arctic Icebreakers

Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, and Senator Maria Cantwell, Washington, have introduced a bill that would authorize the Navy to build up six icebreakers for use by the U.

Launch of First Future Destroyer, Hobart

Speech delivered by the Minister for Defence, Kevin Andrews during the launch of Hobart - the first future destroyer: Thank you for being here on this very important day.

Ferries

Electric & Hybrid Propulsion Ordered fir CMAL Ferry

Imtech Marine informs it has been awarded a third contract to supply the electric and hybrid propulsion system for a hybrid ferry operated by Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) of Scotland.

Ferry Firm DFDS Looks to Expand

Danish ferry and transportation firm DFDS is on the takeover trail, its chief executive said, after reporting its highest first-quarter operating profit on record

New Ferry Service to Long Island

A new intermodal service for the Tri-State area offers a transportation alternative linking New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut with Long Island.   The new service,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Navigation Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar 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: 0.1645 sec (6 req/sec)