News / Asia

S. Korean President: Ferry Captain's Actions 'Like Murder'

South Korean President Park Geun-hye looks at the site where the Sewol sank from aboard a Coast Guard ship in waters off the southern coast near Jindo, South Korea, Thursday, April 17, 2014.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye looks at the site where the Sewol sank from aboard a Coast Guard ship in waters off the southern coast near Jindo, South Korea, Thursday, April 17, 2014.
Daniel Schearf
South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye has criticized the captain and crew of a passenger ferry for abandoning ship while it sank with hundreds on board, equating their action to “murder.”

The captain and at least six crew members have been arrested. Recovery teams have retrieved 87 bodies so far, while 210 remain missing.  

The death toll from the sunken Sewol ferry rose rapidly Monday as divers were able to move deeper into the capsized ship and recover more bodies.

South Korea's President Park Geun-hye at a morning meeting had strong words for those in charge of the passenger ferry.  

She says the conduct of the captain and some crew members is unfathomable, from the viewpoint of common sense, and it was like an act of murder that cannot and should not be tolerated. The captain failed to follow evacuation orders from the Jindo Vessel Traffic Services Center immediately after the accident, she says. Crew members told the passengers to stay where they were but then escaped themselves. She says this is legally and ethically unimaginable.

The captain, Lee Joon-seok, and several crew members are under arrest and facing charges of negligence and violating maritime law.

The ferry sank Wednesday with 476 people on board, most of them high school students on a school trip. Rescue ships saved 179 as the ship went down but, despite fervent attempts, no one has been saved since.

Rescue efforts were hampered by strong currents and murky water. Wreckage and debris also prevented divers from entering passenger areas of the ferry until late Saturday.

Days of anguish are turning to grief for the hundreds of relatives of victims camped on the floor of Jindo's gymnasium.

Kim Ha-na's brother was on the ferry, one of 338 students and teachers from Danwon High-School in Ansan just south of Seoul.
She says she had hope but now she feels complicated and heavy-hearted. Even though air is being pumped into the ship, she says, any suvrivors have had no food or water for six days. She wonders if her brother can still be alive.

It is still not clear what caused the 6,300-ton ship to sink. Survivors reported hearing a loud noise before it began to list, prompting speculatation the ferry could have hit a submerged rock. But investigators are also looking into the possibility that cargo, including numerous vehicles, came loose during a sharp turn and threw the ferry off-balance. South Korean media reports say investigators are also considering recent repairs to the ship and its structural integrity.

President Park on Sunday declared Jindo and Ansan special disaster zones in order to fast-track emergency support.
 
  • Family members of a missing passenger from the capsized passenger ferry, Sewol, wait for news of the rescue operation at a makeshift accommodation, in the port city of Jindo, April 23, 2014.
  • Women wearing protective suits spray antiseptic solution around the tents of volunteers who distribute food and necessities for relatives of missing passengers of Sewol, in Jindo, April 23, 2014.
  • People pray during a candlelight vigil to commemorate the victims of capsized passenger ferry Sewol and to wish for the safe return of missing passengers, in Ansan, Korea, April 23, 2014.
  • Satellite trucks for members of the press reporting on the sunken ferry, Sewol, in Jindo, April 18, 2014. (Sungmin Do/VOA)
  • A Buddhist monk prays for the missing passengers who were on the South Korean ferry, Sewol. Family members, rescue staff and members of the press gather at the port, Jindo, April 18, 2014. (Sungmin Do/VOA)
  • A rescue diver jumps in near the buoys installed to mark the location of the sunken ferry Sewol off the southern coast, near Jindo, April 18, 2014. 
  • This giant offshore crane will be used in the rescue operation of the capsized passenger ferry Sewol. Seen here, it is moving into position as members of the South Korean Navy's SSU (Ship Salvage Unit) take part in the rescue operation, Jindo, April 18, 2014.
  • A family member of a missing passenger on South Korean ferry Sewol cries as she waits for news from a rescue team, Jindo, April 18, 2014.
  • A family member of missing passengers who were on the Sewol ferry looks toward the site of the incident, Jindo, April 18, 2014.

You May Like

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Crowdfunding Helps Save Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit

Smithsonian turns to Kickstarter to raise more than $700,000 to help preserve the spacesuit worn by the first man to walk on the moon More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
April 21, 2014 10:21 AM
WHO'S TO BLAME? -- Was this ships crew (trained) for such an emergency?
It's so easy to pick out people to blame for this catastrophe, but if people aren't (trained) on how to handle an emergency like this disaster, who knows what actions they'll make under extreme duress, and like everybody else, they'll be looking for somebody to tell them what to do.

Panic and disorder will always be the norm, when people who are supposed to be in charge, are faced with an emergency they have not been (trained) to handle.... (Did the lack of training cause this disaster?)...

by: Sun from: Taipei
April 21, 2014 6:20 AM
I wonder why S. Korean government did not rely on Japanese or American support? They have much superior rescue technology than S.Korea. If S.Korean government had accepted their offers, the number of casualties would be reduced so much.
In Response

by: Bob from: Canada
April 21, 2014 2:34 PM
meanbill: Don't make cheap excuses for the crew. The cowards simply cut and run.

Sun: I lived in Korea and taught university there for nearly 9 years. The Koreans are probably better at rescue that the Japanese ever were. The Americans were there. Some of the helicopters were American.

by: mmm from: mmm
April 21, 2014 1:12 AM
He should not judge the captain like this.
If this guy was a captain, would he really be able to stay in the ship and die for others?
I don't believe from such a careless comment that this guy really cares about the dead.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs