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

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More