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UPDATE: Third Officer, Not Captain at the Helm of Korean Ferry When Accident Occurred

JINDO, South Korea — The captain of the Sewol was not at the helm of the ship when the ship capsized according to authorities at a press conference this morning. The third officer was at the wheel of the ship when the accident occurred, further adding mystery to what actually happened before disaster struck on the ship’s journey.

‘It is not clear where (the captain) was when the accident occurred, although it is clear that he was not in the steering room before the actual accident happened,’ state prosecutor Jae-Eok Park said Friday.

The number of confirmed deaths in the ferry sinking off South Korea jumped to 25 early Friday, as growing number of bodies were found floating in the sea apparently due to current shifts.

South Korea’s Coast Guard said a total of 16 bodies were recovered since 6 p.m. Thursday. Hundreds of divers continued a desperate search for any other survivors, with 271 people still unaccounted for.

They were battling against time, low visibility, low temperature and swift currents, and Coast guard officials expect the death toll to rise rapidly. All the bodies recovered so far were found floating, not directly from the hull.

On a positive note, divers were able to reach the hull of the ship and the cafeteria earlier this morning in hopes of finding survivors after previously suffering difficulties approaching the submerged hull.

As to the reason for the sinking of the 6,325-ton ferry, meanwhile, investigators are placing weight on the possibility of sudden cargo shifting, with many dismissing the rock theory that was first suspected.

The captain and crew members are under intense scrutiny for abandoning the ship, with prosecutors saying the heaviest punishment the captain could receive for abandoning his ship and its passengers is a five-year jail term according to the South Korean Seafarer’s Act. 20 of the 29 crew members abandoned the ship, with reports that the captain of the ship did not even become wet during the incident.

Additional Source: Busan eFM News



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