JINDO, South Korea – Four crew members rescued from a sunken ferry were put under arrest today on charges of abandoning the ship and not fulfilling their duty to safely evacuate passengers, police officers said.
A joint investigation team of police and prosecutors said that the four are facing charges of negligence of duty and breaking the standards of the Rescue and Aid at Sea and in the River Act.
The arrests come three days after the arrests of the capsized ship’s 69-year-old captain, Lee Jun-seok, and two other crew members on suspicions of negligence of duty and violation of maritime law.
The 6,825-ton ferry Sewol capsized and sank off the southwestern island of Jindo on Wednesday on its way to the resort island of Jeju. A total of 467 passengers were aboard the ship, with 64 of them confirmed dead and more than 200 others still missing.
The four are two first mates, including a suspect surnamed Kang, one second mate and a chief engineer, officers said.
The team alleged that Kang was the crew member who made radio communication with the vessel traffic service (VTS) and asked whether passengers would be rescued if they abandoned ship off South Korea’s southern coast.
The death toll from a sunken ferry off South Korea’s south coast rose to 65 on Monday as divers stepped up their search for passengers remaining missing in the disaster.
Hopes of finding any survivors were fading rapidly as none of the 302 missing passengers have been found alive since the 6,825-ton ferry Sewol capsized and sank.
Of the 476 people on board, only 174 passengers, including the ferry’s captain and most of its crew, were rescued as the boat listed due to what is believed to have been a sharper than usual turn.
Monday’s search efforts were expected to focus on the dining hall on the third floor of the vessel after rescue workers discovered a route to the area during the night, said Ko Myeong-seok, a spokesman for a government task force handling the disaster.
The dining hall has been cited as one of several areas where many of the passengers are expected to be found, along with lounges and shopping areas.
Search operations continued through the night, with 214 boats and 35 aircraft assigned to searching above water and 151 rescue workers sent underwater, the spokesman said.
Source: Busan eFM News