telling passengers to abandon ship
Published April 19, 2014
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The captain of the doomed South Korean ferry has defended his decision not to tell passengers to abandon ship due to the water conditions and other factors.
Lee Joon-seok, 68, who was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need, said he feared passengers would be swept away in the strong currents because there were no rescue ships in the water at the time.
The captain was translated, saying, “At the time, the current was very strong, temperature of the ocean water was cold and I thought that if people left the ferry without proper judgment, if they were not wearing a life jacket, and even if they were, they would drift away and face many other difficulties.”
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed dead in the ferry disaster has risen to 33 Saturday, with some 270 still missing. Four bodies were found today in the murky waters near the sunken vessel.
The ferry sank off South Korea’s southern coast Wednesday with 476 people aboard, most of them students from a single high school. Many of the missing are believed to be trapped inside the ferry, but divers fighting strong currents and rain have been unable to get to them.
Two crew members also were taken into custody today, including a rookie third mate who a prosecutor said was steering in challenging waters unfamiliar to her when the accident occurred.
Relatives of the missing expressed their anger at officials holding a briefing today. A few dozen people surged toward the stage, hurling rapid-fire questions at the officials. One man tried to choke a coast guard lieutenant and punch a maritime policeman, but missed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report