• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 42s

Death toll rises as search continues for survivors in sunken ferry

By CBS/AP 2:02 PM April 19, 2014
MOKPO, South Korea –

The captain of a sunken South Korean ferry was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need, as investigators looked into whether his evacuation order came too late to save lives. Two crew members were also arrested, a prosecutor said.

The disaster three days ago left more than 265 people missing and at least 46 people dead.

As the last bit of the sunken ferry’s hull slipped Friday beneath the murky water off southern South Korea, there was a new victim: a vice principal of the high school whose students were among the passengers was found hanged, an apparent suicide.

The investigation into South Korea’s ferry disaster focused on the sharp turn it took just before it began listing and on the possibility that a quicker evacuation order by the captain could have saved lives, officials said Friday, as rescuers struggled to find some 270 people still missing and feared dead.

Police said a high school vice principal who had been rescued from the ferry was found hanging Friday from a pine tree on Jindo, an island near the sunken ship where survivors have been housed. He was the leader of a group of 323 students traveling on the ship on a school excursion, and said in a suicide note that he felt guilty for being alive while more than 200 of his students were missing.

Senior prosecutor Yang Jung-jin said the ferry captain, Lee Joon-seok, 68, faces five charges including negligence of duty and violation of maritime law, according to the Yonhap news agency.

Yang said earlier that Lee was not on the bridge when the ferry was passing through an area with many islands clustered closely together, something he said is required by law so the captain can help a mate make a turn. The captain also abandoned people in need of help and rescue, he said.

“The captain escaped before the passengers,” Yang said.

Yang told reporters that the third mate was steering the ship Wednesday morning as it passed through an area with lots of islands clustered close together and fast currents.

Prosecutor Park Jae-eok said investigators were looking at whether the third mate ordered a turn so sharp that it caused the vessel to list.

Yang said the third mate has six months of experience, and hadn’t steered in the area before because another mate usually handles those duties. She took the wheel this time because heavy fog caused a departure delay, Yang said, adding that investigators do not know whether the ship was going faster than usual.

Helmsman Park Kyung-nam identified the third mate as Park Han-kyul. The helmsman who was arrested, 55-year-old Cho Joon-ki, spoke to reporters outside court and accepted some responsibility.

“There was a mistake on my part as well, but the steering had been turned much more than usual,” Cho said.

With the chances of survival becoming slimmer by the hour, it was shaping up to be one of South Korea’s worst disasters, made all the more heartbreaking by the likely loss of so many young people, aged 16 or 17.

Latest Stories

  • Lifestyle

    Denali Park bear incidents leave one injured, close trails and parking lots

    by Megan Edge on Jun 24, 21:16

    Two bear incidents at Denali National Park this week have led park officials to close parking lots and trails. According to a park release, a small, subadult brown bear charged vehicles by the Primrose area and charged visitors near the Savage River in the Denali Park Road area. Then, on Wednesday, the same bear charged […]

  • Politics

    Judge denies attempt to prolong Medicaid legislation

    by Associated Press on Jun 24, 20:27

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – A state judge has denied an attempt to prolong litigation challenging Gov. Bill Walker’s authority to unilaterally expand Medicaid. The Friday action stems from a lawsuit filed by the Alaska Legislative Council against Walker last summer. The case was dismissed by a state court judge in March. The Alaska House subsequently […]

  • News

    Alaska Zoo welcomes new male wolverine

    by Heather Hintze on Jun 24, 20:20

    The Alaska Zoo, in Anchorage, welcomed a new male wolverine earlier this week. Jumbo arrived from Sweden on Wednesday. The 3-year-old male is on exhibit, but is quarantined from his partner Olga for the next few weeks. Olga came from a zoo in Russia last fall. Zookeeper Kora Isakson said the goal is to hopefully […]

  • News

    Veteran advocate takes last ride, laid to rest at Fort Richardson National Cemetery

    by Shannon Ballard on Jun 24, 20:12

    An iconic figure in Alaska’s military and motorcycle communities was remembered for his life of service. Fred “Bulldog” Becker IV dedicated much of his life to advocating for veterans on behalf of the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association and other groups. Becker passed away on June 11. He was 73 years old. Friends and family say […]

  • News

    Brown bear spotted near South Anchorage Neighborhood

    by Lauren Maxwell on Jun 24, 19:36

    Some people who live in a South Anchorage neighborhood are worried about a brown bear that’s been spotted near by. Deborah Baines owns The Learning Farm on Gander Drive, not far from Lake Otis and Huffman. She runs a day camp at the farm, and said on any given day, it’s filled with animals and […]

  • Sports

    Chugiak’s Alev Kelter taking a unique route to Olympics

    by Jake Edmonds on Jun 24, 19:12

    Last updated at 8:30 p.m. Friday, June 24 Alev Kelter is weeks away from joining Team USA Rugby in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She always dreamed of representing her country at the games, but this was not what she had in mind. After graduating from Chugiak High School in 2009, […]

  • News

    Company applies to be Juneau’s first pot-testing laboratory

    by Associated Press on Jun 24, 18:28

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – A Juneau company has applied to be the first marijuana testing business in Alaska’s capital. The Juneau Empire (http://bit.ly/28WfumQ) reports Southeast Alaska Laboratories LLC has applied for a city conditional use permit and a state marijuana establishment license. Glacier Analytics, another potential testing lab, plans to turn in permitting paperwork next […]

  • News

    One killed in Hoonah vehicle crash

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 24, 16:49

    Alaska State Troopers say they’re investigating a deadly vehicle crash in Hoonah that killed one Friday morning. The overturned vehicle was found on Long Island Road, troopers wrote in an online dispatch. Another adult involved in the incident was taken to Juneau for medical treatment, the agency said. The names of the injured and the deceased are […]