News / Asia

    Four South Korea Ferry Crew Members Charged With Manslaughter

    A high school student reads massages written on ribbons for the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol at a group memorial altar in Seoul, South Korea, May 15, 2014.
    A high school student reads massages written on ribbons for the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol at a group memorial altar in Seoul, South Korea, May 15, 2014.
    VOA News
    The captain and three other crew members of the ferry that sank off South Korea last month, killing more than 280 people, were indicted Thursday on charges of manslaughter through gross negligence, a prosecutor said.

    Under South Korean criminal law, Captain Lee Joon-Seok, two navigators and a chief engineer could be handed the death sentence if convicted, although no one has been executed in South Korea since 1997.

    Eleven other crew members were indicted on lesser charges, including alleged negligence and abandoning passengers in need when the 6,800-ton ferry Sewol capsized and sank on April 16, according to prosecutors.

    Even after being instructed by maritime safety authorities to help passengers evacuate the Sewol ferry, the crew failed to take any action and almost an hour later got on the first rescue boat, senior prosecutor Yang Jong-Jin, who is also spokesman for the prosecution, told the French news agency AFP.

    Crew among first to be rescued

    The 15 indicted crew members, among the first to be rescued, were arrested last month. They had taken off their uniforms and changed into civilian clothes, aware that uniformed crew members should be the last to evacuate, prosecutors were quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.

    Lee initially told passengers to stay in their cabins and took about a half-hour to issue an evacuation order, but it's not known if his message was ever conveyed to passengers.

    In a video taken by the coast guard, he was seen escaping the ferry in his underwear to a rescue boat while many passengers were still in the sinking ship.

    Lee told reporters after his arrest last month that he withheld the evacuation order because rescuers had yet to arrive and he feared for the passengers' safety in the cold, swift water.

    The head of the ferry's owner, Chonghaejin Marine Co. Ltd, and four other company employees have also been arrested. Authorities suspect improper stowage and overloading of cargo may have contributed to the disaster.

    Coastguard spokesman Ko Myung-Suk said it retrieved five bodies late Wednesday and three more Thursday. The confirmed death toll is now 284, with 20 listed as missing. Only 172 people, including 22 of the ship's 29 crew members, survived.

    Most of the victims were students from a single high school near Seoul who were traveling to the southern tourist island of Jeju.
     
    South Korean divers operate at the site where the capsized passenger ship Sewol sank in the sea off Jindo, South Korea, on April 20, 2014.South Korean divers operate at the site where the capsized passenger ship Sewol sank in the sea off Jindo, South Korea, on April 20, 2014.
    x
    South Korean divers operate at the site where the capsized passenger ship Sewol sank in the sea off Jindo, South Korea, on April 20, 2014.
    South Korean divers operate at the site where the capsized passenger ship Sewol sank in the sea off Jindo, South Korea, on April 20, 2014.

    Conditions for divers

    Coastguard chief Kim Suk-Kyun said on Wednesday that divers engaged in the grisly and dangerous task of retrieving bodies were being seriously hampered as waterlogged partition walls inside the ship collapsed.

    "As time goes by, the interior is caving in faster and faster, posing serious threats to divers' safety," he said.

    One diver, Chun Kwang-Geun, said poor visibility inside the ship forced his colleagues to blindly grope through debris to find victims.

    "If we stumble upon something, we grope it by hand (to determine whether it is a body)," said the 40-year-old who has been working on the scene since the day after the disaster.

    "Many partition walls have collapsed, blocking our access," he said.

    Another diver, Lee Sun-Hyong, 35, said the collapsing walls threatened to cut off air supply to divers who mostly use breathing systems tethered to the surface.

    The sinking, one of the deadliest disasters in South Korean history, has triggered an outpouring of national grief. More than 1.8 million people have paid their respects at makeshift mourning stations across the country. The government also has been under mounting public criticism for its handling of the disaster.

    Last week, South Korean President Park Geun-hye visited the families of passengers still missing. The South Korean leader pledged to severely punish those responsible for the disaster.

    Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: champ from: india
    May 15, 2014 7:56 AM
    its so sad and unhappy to hear this news. i followed this news very often. im so sad for all those high school students exchanging text with their parents hoping that they will see their face again. may God almighty be with them. if RIP is return if possible, what a joyful time the family will have again.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.