Sewol Ferry: Timeline Of Events And All You Need To Know

A South Korean ferry with 475 people onboard was sailing to the southern island of Jeju (popularly known as the Hawaii of Korea) when it sent a distress call on 16 April 2014 after it began leaning to one side.

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Sewol Ferry Disaster: 275 Bodies Discovered With 29 Still Missing

The sun sets over the site of the sunken ferry

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The death toll from the South Korean ferry capsizing has gone up to 275, with dozens more still missing, the nation's officials said Saturday. "The two additional male bodies were retrieved overnight," the Government Rescue Headquarters said. It said 29 people are listed as missing.

The search for victims of the Sewol ferry sinking has been put on hold due to unfavorable weather near Jindo island, authorities said Saturday. Officials in charge of finding victims and determining the cause of the tragic accident said high wind and wave alerts issued for the area are making it impossible to send divers to the sunken ship after two more bodies were recovered the previous day.

"Waves are rising to the point that they are wetting the deck of the barge that is being used as the staging area for divers," an official told reporters at Jindo country office. He said 2-meter-high waves have been reported with conditions expected to worsen in the afternoon. Others said the high wave and wind warnings will be maintained until Monday, that can cause searches to be called off during the weekend.

A girl in Seoul, South Korea, holds a candle during a service paying tribute to the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol on Wednesday

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Related to the search, divers said that internal partitions have started to deform as they have become water-logged, making it more difficult to conduct operations. In addition to searching the capsized ship, authorities have used buoys and markers to follow the movement of currents to help facilitate a recovery of bodies and materials that may have been swept away.

Sewol Ferry Disaster: CEO Arrested, Charged With Causing Death By Negligence

Kim Han-Sik (centre), the elderly chief executive of Chonghaejin Marine, being helped to the prosecutor's office

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The head of the company that operated a ferry that sank off South Korea, killing more than 260 people, was arrested Thursday, a senior prosecutor said. Kim Han-sik, chief executive officer of Cheonghaejin Marine Company, is being charged with "causing death by negligence, as well as causing the capsizing of the ship in the line of duty," prosecutor Yang Joong-jin said.

He also faces a charge of violating the ship safety act, Yang said, in connection with allegations that excessive cargo a played a role in the April 16 sinking. Investigators have said the cargo and the failure to tie it down properly was partially responsible for the sinking of the ferry Sewol, which was carrying 467 passengers and crew -- including more than 300 high school students on a field trip.

Investigators said they've indicted four employees of the ferry's owner in the last two weeks, including a senior executive Tuesday. Details about the charges weren't immediately available. Authorities took aim at the cargo Tuesday, saying its weight was more than double the ship's limit. The cargo wasn't tied properly -- and the loosely tied goods helped cause the ship to capsize, Yang has said.

Investigators had been probing the possibility the ship overturned because cargo shifted and forced the ship off balance. At least 269 people died in the disaster, which happened while the ferry was traveling from Incheon to the resort island of Jeju, off South Korea's southwestern coast. Thirty-five people still are unaccounted for, according to the country's coast guard

A relative of a passenger weeps while waiting for news of his missing loved one at a port in Jindo on April 25.

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News of Kim's arrest comes nearly a week after South Korean authorities searched Cheonghaejin Marine's offices as part of a criminal investigation. This trip wasn't the first time the ferry had excess cargo, a joint investigation team told reporters Tuesday. Since the Sewol began the Incheon-Jeju route in March 2013, the ferry carried excess cargo 139 times, investigators said.

Civilian Diver Involved In The Search For Missing Bodies From Sewol Ferry Dies

A diver jumps into the sea to look for people believed to have been trapped in the sunken Sewol ferry

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A civilian diver involved in the search for missing people from the South Korean ferry disaster died Tuesday, local time, after becoming unconscious, a government official said. The 53-year-old diver was pulled to the water's surface by other divers when he lost communication shortly after starting underwater searches, according to the Associated Press, citing government task-force spokesperson Ko Myung-seok.

He later died at a hospital. The victim was the first fatality among divers who joined search efforts following the Sewol's sinking, the coast guard said.

In searching for the missing, divers have been working their way into the last three unopened rooms, next to a snack bar on the ferry's third floor, Ko earlier told reporters. He said the search team does not expect to find many bodies in those rooms as they were not assigned to the high school students who made up most of the ferry's passengers.

A girl prays in front of paper ships bearing messages for the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol at a group memorial altar in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 5, 2014

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As of Monday, the death toll reached 260, the AP reported. Only 174 people have been rescued so far, including 22 of the 29 crew members, with 40 still missing. The final death toll is expected to be around 300.

Sewol Ferry Was Routinely Overloaded And Carried Three Times Its Cargo Limit

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The doomed ferry Sewol exceeded its cargo limit on 246 trips — nearly every voyage it made in which it reported cargo — in the 13 months before it sank, according to documents that reveal the regulatory failures that allowed passengers by the hundreds to set off on an unsafe vessel. And it may have been more overloaded than ever on its final journey.

One private, industry-connected entity recorded the weights. Another set the weight limit. Neither appears to have had any idea what the other was doing. And they are but two parts of a maritime system that failed passengers April 16 when the ferry sank, leaving more than 300 people missing or dead.

The disaster has exposed enormous safety gaps in South Korea’s monitoring of domestic passenger ships, which is in some ways less rigorous than its rules for ships that handle only cargo. Collectively, the country’s regulators held more than enough information to conclude that the Sewol was routinely overloaded, but because they did not share that data and were not required to do so, it was practically useless.
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Meanwhile, the death toll reached the figure of 242 as divers discovered six more bodies on early Sunday, the government’s response headquarters reported. Authorities earlier expressed concerns that not all of the missing people would be found as some of the bodies were discovered over the past days about 30 kilometers from the crash scene. The number of people unaccounted for stands at 60.

Sewol Ferry Owner's Close Aide Grilled, Death Toll Jumps To 210

Mourners carry portraits of victims of the sunken ferry Sewol

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Prosecutors on Wednesday summoned a close aide to the owner of a capsized ferry as part of their expanded investigation into various corruption allegations surrounding the owner family. Song Kook-bin, a chief of local door-to-door sales company Dapanda Co., showed up at the Incheon District Prosecutors' Office in the western port city of Incheon around 10 a.m. as a suspect in the investigation.

A special prosecution team of the Incheon District Prosecutors' Office suspects that as one of seven close aides to Yoo Byung-eun, a billionaire suspected to be the de-facto owner Chonghaejin Marine Co. that owns and operates the Sewol, Song was deeply involved in the alleged crimes committed by Yoo and his close relatives. Charges against Yoo and his family include embezzlement, dereliction of duty, tax evasion and bribery, prosecutors said. The finances of Chonghaejin Marine and its complex share structure have come under scrutiny by the prosecution investigation since the disaster.

The confirmed death toll from the accident stood at 210, with 92 unaccounted for, the coastguard said, with divers pushing deeper into the submerged vessel's interior in their search for bodies. The recovery operation has stalled in recent days because of strong currents and debris blocking access to some of the cabin decks.

A relative of a passenger aboard the sunken Sewol ferry weeps as she awaits news on her missing loved one at a port in Jindo, South Korea, Sunday, April 27

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Prosecutors investigating the disaster on Tuesday questioned the regular captain of the 6,825-tonne Sewol, who was on leave when it capsized April 16 with 476 people on board -- most of them high school students. Senior Prosecutor Yang Jong-jin said the captain, identified only as Shin, told investigators that he had warned the shipping company of serious stability problems with the Sewol. The Chonghaejin Marine Co purchased the then-18 year old ferry from Japan in 2012 and refurbished it, building extra passenger cabins on the third, fourth and fifth decks.

Shin said the renovations altered the balance of the ship and undermined its anti-rolling ability. When he advised the company about the problems, his warnings were brushed aside, he told investigators. The precise cause of the accident is still under investigation, but experts have suggested a sharp turn may have caused its cargo to shift, and the ferry to list irretrievably to one side before capsizing.

Sewol Ferry Tragedy: 193 Confirmed Dead With Another 109 Still Missing

People attend a memorial for the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol

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The South Korean government has raised the death toll on what has become a point of national mourning and shame to 193. Most of the dead and missing are high school students.

Senior coast guard officer Kim Su-hyeon said that most of the remaining missing passengers are believed to be in 64 of the ship’s 111 rooms. Divers have entered 36 of those 64 rooms, coast guard officers said, but may need to go back into some because floating debris made it difficult for divers to be sure that there are no more bodies.

Meanwhile, the South Korean coast guard on April 28 released a video showing the captain of the ferry Sewol leaping onto a rescue boat before the ship sank with hundreds still aboard. The captain, Lee Joon-seok, wearing only a sweater and underpants, is shown being rescued from the ferry, which is tilted about 45 degrees. According to Kim Kyung-il, a coast guard official, the ship’s crew members did not tell rescuers that they were crew members.

In one video, the captain of the sinking South Korean ferry scrambles to safety. In another, stranded passengers panic. "Wow, it's tilting a lot. We're tilting to this side. Can't move," one says. "You think I'm really going to die?" another cries. The two recordings fueled fresh outrage Monday over the Sewol ferry's sinking as questions swirled over why so many perished in the disaster while many members of the ship's crew survived.

A barefoot Capt. Lee Joon-seok is rescued on April 16 from the listing ferry Sewol near Jindo island in the southwestern part of South Korea. The image was taken with a mobile phone by a member of the rescue team

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All 15 of the surviving crew responsible for sailing the huge ferry are in custody, facing charges including negligence and abandoning passengers. Victims' families have bitterly criticised the official response to the disaster, saying delays in accessing the submerged ship may have robbed any survivors of their last chance to make it out alive. The video attracted caustic online comment. "Look at the captain running out of the ship without his pants on. How pathetic. Can't believe he didn't think about all the children trapped there while he rushed so quickly to save his own life," said one user.

Sewol Ferry Tragedy: Divers Find 48 Bodies Of Girls Inside One Cabin Meant To Hold Only 30

Relatives onboard a ship visit the site of the sunken South Korean ferry 'Sewol' on Thursday

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The bodies of 48 young girls wearing lifejackets have been discovered in a single cabin of the doomed South Korean ferry, as government officials were forced to admit they sent the wrong bodies home to several grieving families. As frustrated relatives of those missing on the Sewol ferry vented their anger at the pace of the search efforts, rescuers said the bodies of the 48 girls had been discovered in a cabin with a capacity of 30.

The account of the recovery of the girls' bodies, offered Friday by rescue officials, offers a glimpse of the final moments aboard the sinking ferry, which went down on April 16 with 476 people aboard. It also illuminates the daunting task facing divers trying to retrieve bodies while maintaining a fading glimmer of hope that perhaps, somewhere aboard the ferry, someone remains alive.

A South Korea navy officer gives a briefing about a rescue operation to the family members of missing passengers onboard the sunken passenger ship Sewol

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So far, rescuers have retrieved 187 bodies. Another 115 people remain missing, although no one has been rescued since 174 were plucked from ship and sea the day the ferry sank. As the effort inside the ship continues, South Korean authorities are pressing a criminal investigation into the sinking. It's resulted in the arrests of the ship's captain and 14 other members, searches of the company that owned the ferry and the home of the man whose family controls it, and a wide-ranging probe into the country's marine industry.

11 Sewol Ferry Crew Members Charged With Negligent Homicide As Death Toll Jumps To 181

People attend a candlelight vigil in Ansan, to commemorate the victims of capsized passenger ship Sewol and to wish for the safe return of its missing passengers

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So far, it looks like all 15 crew members, including the captain Lee Joon-seok that escaped the ferry will face criminal charges. 11 have already been charged with negligent homicide while violating maritime law, with the remaining four under investigation as suspects.

Death toll from a sunken South Korean ferry rose to 181 on Friday morning as divers kept searching bodies or possible survivors inside the submerged vessel. On the 10th day since the ferry carrying 476 people capsized off the country's southwestern coast on April 16, seven more bodies were recovered from the ship overnight, raising the death toll to 181, with 121 still missing, Xinhua reported.

Rescue operations were hampered on Thursday as tidal currents became faster than expected. Weather forecast said the currents in the area would slow down for four days through Thursday before turning faster from Friday. It was forecast to rain from Saturday night. Fifteen bodies were retrieved on Thursday, much lower than the 38 bodies discovered on Wednesday. Divers recovered 36 people on Tuesday and 28 others on Monday.

Relatives show their frustration as they manhandle deputy coast guard chief Choi Sang-hwan

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Meanwhile, frustrated relatives of the scores of passengers still missing from the sinking of the South Korean ferry Sewol staged a marathon confrontation with the fisheries minister and the coast guard chief, surrounding the senior officials in a stand-off that lasted overnight and into Friday morning as they vented their rage at the pace of search efforts.

Sewol Ferry Tragedy: 162 Confirmed Dead With 140 Still Missing

Divers grapple with inhuman conditions as Sewol ferry salvage continues. 23/04

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Death toll in the South Korean ferry sinking disaster rose to 162 on Thursday as search operations became faster amid favorable climatic conditions. In the ninth day into the search, 162 people have been confirmed dead, leaving 140 others still missing. The number of those rescued has been unchanged at 174 since the 6,825-ton ferry Sewol capsized and sank off Jindo Island.

The number of corpses retrieved from the submerged vessel has risen sharply since the weekend as weather condition turned favorable, though divers still battled low underwater visibility to find those missing. As high tide and rain are expected from Friday, relatives with diminishing hopes of finding more survivors pressured the government to finish the search by Thursday, because no one has been found alive since the ship's sinking.

Furthermore, it became known that the first distress call to authorities was made by a student on board, not by a crew member. Coast Guard on Thursday said the Danwon High School student who made the first call was confirmed dead as his body was retrieved from the cabin on the fourth floor the previous day. His parents had checked his body and clothes and concluded he was their son, the Yonhap news agency said. The crew had told the children to stay put as the ferry sank.
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The first distress call from the sinking vessel was made by a boy with a shaking voice, three minutes after the vessel made its fateful last turn, a fire service officer told Reuters. He called the emergency 119 number which put him through to the fire service, which in turn forwarded him to the coastguard two minutes later. That was followed by about 20 other calls from children on board the ship to the emergency number.

Family members of missing passengers who were on the South Korean ferry Sewol

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"Save us! We're on a ship and I think it's sinking," Yonhap quoted the boy as saying. The fire service official asked him to switch the phone to the captain, media said, and the boy replied: "Do you mean teacher?" The pronunciation of the words for "captain" and "teacher" is similar in Korean.

Sewol Ferry Search Intensifies As Death Toll Jumps To 150 With Another 150 Still Missing

Searchers and divers look for people believed to have been trapped in the sunken ferry Sewol in the water off the southern coast near Jindo, south of Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

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Divers recovered 11 more bodies in their intensive search of a capsized South Korean ferry Wednesday with some 150 passengers still missing, a week after the country's worst maritime disaster in two decades. The death toll from the sinking of the 6,825-ton ferry Sewol jumped to 150 as Coast Guard, Navy and civilian divers recovered the bodies from the cabins on the third and fourth decks and the third-deck cafeteria, where most of the missing are believed trapped.

The rescue team halted and resumed operations many times during the night due to relatively strong currents, said officials of the government task force team handling the disaster, adding that the divers successfully entered the cafeteria late Tuesday night. The team said rescue workers will continue to search around the clock as weather conditions have improved, by mobilizing a total of 212 boats, 34 aircraft and some 550 rescue workers.

Searchers and divers look for people believed to have been trapped in the sunken ferry Sewol in the water off the southern coast near Jindo, south of Seoul, South Korea, April 22.

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Noticeably, a group of 50 civilian divers using surface supplied equipment were put into the search-and-rescue operations as they can stay under water for nearly one hour, said the officials. There is an air compressor on the surface that continually provides an air to the divers through a hose, which is different from general diving when a diver's equipment is completely self-contained and there is no link to the surface.

The team, meanwhile, said it has decided to withdraw remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and other advanced equipments, including "Crabster," from the scene due to the strong tidal currents. The team had earlier deployed two ROVs and robots designed for undersea exploration to search inside of the sunken vessel for bodies or possible survivors inside the hull.

A diver carrying a hammer enters the water to search for missing passengers of the sunken Sewol off the coast of Jindo Island, South Jeolla Province, Tuesday.

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The families of the missing, meanwhile, began discussing funerals for student victims and vowed to stay at the scene until everyone has been found. "We are aware that there are families starting to get worried as other families have been leaving the scene after finding their missing loved ones," said a representative of the family members. "After holding funerals, we will come back and stay here until the last missing person is found," he added.

South Korea Government Bans School Trips Nationwide Due To Sewol Ferry Incident

South Koreans pay tribute in front of an altar for a victim of a capsized ferry during a funeral service in Seoul, April 19, 2014.

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South Korea’s government isn’t taking any chances after last week’s Sewol ferry disaster — on Monday, the Education Ministry banned all school trips until at least June.

Last Friday, Seoul’s Metropolitan Office of Education ordered six schools to cancel or indefinitely hold off on a scheduled trip to Jeju. It also advised other schools to follow suit.

Vice Education Minister Na Seung-il told educational officials from 17 cities around the country during a meeting that they should call off all school trips until the end of the first academic semester, in June.

On 21 April 2014, The South Korea President Said That The Behaviour Of The Sewol Ferry Captain And Crew Were "Akin to Murder"

South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye (C) meets relatives of missing passengers on board the capsized ferry 'Sewol' as they wait for updates about their loved ones at a gym in Jindo.

Image via AFP/Jung Yeon-Je

South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday likened the actions of the captain and some crew members of the sunken ferry Sewol to murder as divers continued to search desperately for survivors in the submerged vessel.

Prosecutors said they would decide within 48 hours whether to request arrest warrants for two first mates, one second mate and a chief engineer who were aboard the Sewol when it listed and sank off South Korea’s south-west coast last Wednesday.

The ship’s captain, Lee Joon-seok, was arrested at the weekend along with two other officers. Lee, 69, faces five charges, including negligence and violations of maritime law, amid accusations that he abandoned the stricken vessel while hundreds of passengers were still
on board.

"The actions of the captain and some of the crew are absolutely unacceptable, unforgivable actions that are akin to murder," Park said Monday (21 April 2014) in comments released by her office. She said she and other South Koreans were filled with "rage and horror."

As of April 20, 2014, 10:30 p.m. E.T., the death toll in a ferry disaster off the South Korean coast is at a reported 64 as divers continued to recover more bodies from the sunken boat, the Associated Press reports.

The Full Transcript Of Messages Between Officers On The Vessel And Traffic Officials Revealed Miscommunication And Confusion

Officers manning the stricken South Korean ferry that sank last week were hamstrung by indecision and communication problems at the critical moment when deciding whether to evacuate passengers, according to the full communications transcript.

An excerpt from the Sewol Ferry transmission with a traffic control centre in Jeju.

Image via Ib Times

In the end, the evacuation order was only given around 40 minutes after the ship ran into trouble, by which time it was listing so heavily that escape was almost impossible.

At the time of the ferry crashing into the rocks that eventually led to the ship sinking, the captain of the vessel, Captain Lee Joon-seok, was not on the ship's bridge and instead the ferry was being steered by an inexperienced third mate.

On 20 April 2014, 50 Were Reported Dead, 16 Bodies Recovered And 256 Still Missing

Police officers carry bodies of victims from the sunken ferry Sewol on April 20.

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Rescue divers combed the sunken ferry Sewol off South Korea on Sunday after retrieving more than a dozen bodies from inside the underwater wreck for the first time since the sinking, as hopes fade for any survivors among hundreds of people remaining missing.

A total of 16 bodies have been recovered from inside the ship since Navy and Coast Guard divers pulled the first of them Saturday night, bringing the confirmed death toll to 50 and reinforcing fears that many of the 256 people still unaccounted for are trapped inside.

Divers focused on searching passenger compartments of the ship. Strong currents and low visibility underwater have hampered diving operations, and officials said they will take maximum advantage of brief periods occurring a few times a day when currents slow down. Weather in the area was relatively good on Sunday.

Rescue workers carry the body of a victim from the sunken South Korean ferry 'Sewol' at Jindo harbour on Sunday, April 20, 2014

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About 560 divers will take turns to go underwater during the day while 204 Navy, Coast Guard and private vessels and 34 aircraft will scour the area, officials said. Diving operations are expected to pick up pace as five underwater routes guiding divers to the wreck have been set up, officials said.

Three Days After Its Capsize, Three Bodies Were Found Trapped Inside The Sunken Sewol Ferry

Rescued passengers cry at a gym where they gathered in Jindo

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Three days after the 6,825-tonne passenger ferry capsized and sank off the Jindo Island near the southwestern tip of South Korea, first bodies were found Saturday morning within the passenger cabins of the ferry, local media reported.

Coast guard, navy and private divers have tried overnight to make their way into passenger compartments on the third and fourth floors of the five-storey vessel where possible survivors were believed to have been trapped, Xinhua reported. Three bodies were discovered at around 5.40 a.m. on the fourth floor by private divers with the naked eye for the first time.

South Korean navy personnel try to install buoys to mark the sunken passenger ship Sewol in Rescue teams install buoys to mark the position of the sunken ferry

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Death toll has kept rising as search operations continued, with 29 people confirmed dead. The number of missing passengers was 273, and another 174 people were rescued.

No sounds have been detected from within the capsized hull, the coastguard told reporters. The discovery comes amid stalled rescue efforts due to strong tides as hundreds of navy, coastguard and private divers scour the site, 25 km (15 miles) off the southwest coast of South Korea.

On 18 April 2014, The Captain Of Sewol Ferry Was Arrested For Negligence And On Charges Of Abandoning The Ship

The captain of the sunken ferry, Lee Joon-seok, centre, arrives at a court in Mokpo on Friday

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Prosecutors arrested the captain and two other crew members of the sunken South Korean ferry late Friday, as one of the crew confirmed accounts that the captain, 69-year-old Lee Jun-seok, was among the first to abandon the sinking ship.

The focus on the crew members' final actions came after a third day of frustration, confusion and tragedy that on Friday brought no new breakthroughs in attempts to rescue the nearly 300 passengers who remain missing since the ferryboat Sewol sank on Wednesday.

The captain, Mr. Lee, and the two crew in charge of the vessel at the time it first ran into trouble, were arrested on charges of abandoning the ship in violation of the seafarers' law, which stipulates they must help passengers leave a wrecked ship safely, prosecutors said. The three crew members were also charged with not making efforts to safely evacuate passengers and eventually causing their death. It wasn't immediately clear if the three crew members had lawyers.

Investigators also didn't appear to be any closer to understanding why the ship made what it called a "radical right turn" shortly before it began to sink. "I am really sorry and deeply ashamed. I don't know what to say," Mr. Lee had told a group of reporters on Thursday, television footage showed.

The ship's captain has come under intense media scrutiny in South Korea

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Captain Of South Korean Ferry, One Of The First To Jump To Safety, Said He Was Deeply Ashamed

Lee Joon-Seok, captain of the South Korean ferry that capsized at sea off the coast of Jindo, is interviewed at Mokpo police station in Mokpo.

Image via The Independent

Captain Lee Joon-Seok, 69, faces a criminal investigation, coastguard officials say, amid unconfirmed reports that he was one of the first to jump to safety from the stricken vessel Sewol.

The first instructions from the captain were for the passengers to put on life jackets and stay put, and it was not until about 30 minutes later that he ordered an evacuation, Oh Yong-seok, a 58-year-old crew member, told The Associated Press. But Oh said he wasn't sure if the captain's order, given to crew members, was actually relayed to passengers on the public address system.

Several survivors also told the AP that they never heard any evacuation order.

Prosecutors today, 18 April 2014, declared Lee was not in command of the boat when disaster struck. “It was the third officer who was in command of steering the ship when the accident took place,” state prosecutor Park Jae-Eok told a press briefing.

Lee Joon-Seok, captain of the South Korean ferry that capsized at sea off the coast of Jindo, is interviewed at Mokpo police station in Mokpo.

Image via AFP

Surrounded by TV cameras and reporters as he waited in the coastguard’s southern headquarters in Mokpo, captain Lee pulled a hood over his head and face and mumbled incoherently in response to persistent questions to explain what happened.

"I am really sorry and deeply ashamed," a man identified by broadcaster YTN and Yonhap news agency as the captain, 68-year-old Lee Joon-seok, said in brief comments shown on TV, his face hidden beneath a gray hoodie. "I don't know what to say."

Kim Han-sik, president of Chonghaejin Marine Co., the ship's owner, also apologized separately, bowing deeply and saying, "I committed a sin punishable by death...I am at a loss for words. I am sorry. I am sorry."

Mobile Footage Shows Students In Cabins As Sewol Ferry Sank, VIDEO:

Mobile phone footage taken by one survivor shows passengers who it is claimed had been ordered to stay in their seats and cabins when the ferry began sinking.

There was growing public anger over multiple survivor testimony that passengers had been ordered to stay in their seats and cabins when the ferry first foundered. "We must have waited 30 to 40 minutes after the crew told us to stay put," said one rescued student.

Sea Cranes And Air Pumps Part Of Two Planned Recovery Methods

The two planned recovery methods in relation to the Sewol ferry which sank on 16 April 2014.

Image via CNN

At around noon on Thursday local time, workers began trying to pump air into the boat, hoping air pockets might be expanded within the structure, helping to lift the ferry. These efforts have proved unsuccessful so far. Authorities say that they will try again when the tide turns.

Three 3,600-ton "sea cranes" are due to arrive Friday to assist with efforts. "The cranes are being moved as fast as possible, the focus is getting them there early," said Choi Myeong-beom, a Ministries of Oceans and Fisheries representative.

On 17 April 2014, The Last Mobile Message From A Student Onboard The Sewol Ferry To His Mother Went Viral

A reported mobile conversation via a messaging app between a high school student on the South Korea ferry and his/her mother.

Image via Korea Boo

As a ferry carrying 462 people slowly sank off South Korea’s southern coast Wednesday, a high school student sent a heartbreaking cellphone text message.

The message read, "Mom, This might be my last chance to tell you I love you."

The mother replied, "Why? No wonder you weren't checking your Kakao. Me too son. I love you."

The mother messaged back with her love - but received no response. In the emotional aftermath of the disaster, a screen grab of the exchange went viral.

South Korean Shipwreck Survivors Were Faced With Choice To Stay In Place Or Don Life Vests And Jump Into Chilly Ocean Water

The Sewol ferry was carrying 475 passengers and crew when it capsized on Wednesday, 16 April 2014.

Image via Al Jazeera

Passengers aboard a sinking South Korean ferry faced a terrifying choice as the vessel rolled: obey commands barked over loudspeakers to stay in place, or don life vests and jump into the chilly ocean water.

As rescuers searched the frigid water for nearly 300 people who remained unaccounted for, witnesses told horrific stories of their final minutes on the sinking ship.

"We were told to stay where you are, so we kept staying," survivor Hyun Hung Chang told YTN. "But later on, the water level came up. So we were beside ourselves. Kids were screaming out of terror, shouting for help."

"I had to swim a bit to get to the boat to be rescued," Lim Hyung Min, one of more than 300 Seoul high school students who was aboard the ship for a four-day field trip, told CNN affiliate YTN. "The water was so cold and I wanted to live."

Earlier, South Korea’s Coastguard Said Two Persons Were Killed As They Struggled To Rescue 475 People Onboard A Ferry That Ran Aground And Sank Off The Southern Coast

People watch a TV news program showing the sinking passenger ship at Seoul Railway Station.

Image via CNN

South Korean Coast Guard members search for survivors from the Sewol, a South Korean ferry, as it sinks in the Yellow Sea on Wednesday, April 16.

Image via Bayoubuzz

South Korean coastguard vessels and helicopters pulled passengers off a stricken ferry as it sank Wednesday off the southern coast with more than 450 passengers onboard - mostly high school students. Two coast guard officers said that a 27-year-old woman named Park Ji-yeong and another unidentified person had died.

Photos broadcast on television showed the ferry tilted over 45 degrees on the port side with helicopters flying overhead, and then fully capsized with only its stern visible.

April 16: Relatives arrive to wait for missing people at a port in Jindo,South Korea.

Image via AP

Among The 475 Passengers, Around 320 Were Students Who Were Traveling With Several Teachers To The Resort Island Of Jeju. There Are Around 20 Crew Members Onboard.

The distress signal was received from the ferry, identified as the Sewol, around 9 AM (local time)

Image via BBC

Of the 476 passengers on board the ferry bound for the southern resort island of Jeju, 325 were students from a high school in Ansan, south of Seoul. The remainder of those on board were crew. Coastguard officials said the crew sent out a distress signal at 9:00 am (0000 GMT) with passenger testimony suggesting it may have run aground.

A Total Of 34 Naval, Coastguard And Civilian Ships Were Involved In Rescue Efforts, As Well As 18 Helicopters

More than 30 ships are involved in the rescue

Image via BBC

Lee Gyeong-Og, the vice minister of security and public administration, said 34 naval, coastguard and civilian vessels were involved in the rescue operation, along with 18 helicopters. In a personal message, President Park Geun-Hye “ordered us to make efforts not to leave a single casualty,” he said.

South Korea coast guard police officers work to respond to the sinking ship.

Image via CNN

Media Like CNN, BBC And Reuters Have Varying Numbers Of The Total Number Of Passengers On The Sewol Ferry

The Sewol ferry was carrying 475 passengers and crew when it capsized on Wednesday, 16 April 2014.

Image via Livemint

"About 290 people are still missing out of 450 passengers on the Sewol ferry, which capsized in still-mysterious circumstances off the Korean peninsula on Wednesday in what could be the country's worst maritime accident in 20 years." - Reuters

"Almost 300 people remain unaccounted for after a ferry carrying 459 people capsized and sank off South Korea." - BBC

"As of 10:45 a.m. (9:45 p.m. ET Wednesday), of the 475 people who were aboard the ferry when it capsized, there were 287 people missing, and 179 people had been rescued, the coast guard said." - CNN

The Ferry Manifest Included 150 Cars. The Weight Of The Ferry Was Expected To Be 6,825-Tonne (6,82,5000KG)

Map showing the area off the south coast of South Korea where a rescue operation was underway

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Hundreds of ferries ply the waters between the South Korean mainland and its multiple offshore islands every day, and accidents are relatively rare. However in one of the worst incidents, nearly 300 people died when a ferry capsized off the western coast in October, 1993.

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