South Korean Sunken Ferry: Crew Members May Face Accidental Homicide Charges

The sunken South Korean Ferry disaster of last week left around 80 people dead and another 222 people are still missing. Reports are now stating that prosecutors are considering charging the captain, third mate and helmsman with accidental homicide.

According to ABC News, captain Lee Joon-seok, 68, third mate Park Han-gyeol and an unnamed helmsman were all arrested on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. The captain reportedly told passengers to stay in their rooms and waited more than half an hour to issue an evacuation order as the ferry sank. Reports state that by the time the evacuation order was given, the ship had titled and taken on so much water that many of the passengers could not escape.

The New York Times stated that prosecutors have been investigating passengers’ statements, many of which confirm that they were told by the captain to stay inside the ship, even as it continued to sink.

The captain, third mate and helmsman weren’t the only ones arrested in the sinking of the South Korean ferry. According to The New York Times, prosecutors detained four more crew members including two first mates, a second mate and a chief engineer. Senior prosecutor Ahn Sang-don said prosecutors would decide within 48 hours whether to seek arrest warrants for the four, according to ABC News.

President Park Geun-hye is calling for stern punishments for those “responsible for the disaster,” claiming that the decision of some crew members to abandon the ship was “like a murderous act that can never be understood or forgiven.”

“They escaped first, abandoning the passengers while asking them to stay put,” Ms. Park said. “Legally and morally speaking, this is something one cannot even imagine.”

Search efforts have been difficult for crews due to bad weather and low visibility. According to ABC News, oil on the water’s surface, added to the poor visibility making it difficult for search and rescue teams to access the sunken ferry. Over the weekend, divers reportedly discovered a new entryway through the ferry’s dining hall that gave them better access to parts of the ferry, and helped to discover the bodies of more of the deceased.

While news of the arrests and detainment of now seven of the South Korean ferry crew brings a little relief to families of the victims, it doesn’t help take away the pain from those who are still waiting for their loved ones to be found.

Stay with The Inquisitr as more information becomes available on the fates of the missing and the crew who are now facing possible criminal indictment.

[Image by jinjoo2713 via Wikimedia Commons]

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