• 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

  • Politics

    Senate considers Permanent Fund spending bill with minimum PFD guarantee

    by Liz Raines on Feb 09, 21:34

      JUNEAU — Alaska lawmakers from all parties agree they need to focus on bridging the state’s unprecedented budget shortfall this legislative session. The fastest way to do it is by using the Permanent Fund’s earnings to pay for government, instead of the Permanent Fund dividend program. In December, Gov. Bill Walker introduced a proposal that […]

  • Lifestyle

    ‘Schools on the Edge’ Part Two: Dillingham

    by Daniella Rivera on Feb 09, 21:20

      ANCHORAGE — “I didn’t really expect to get this job,” Jolin Kapotak said, sitting in front of a 3D scanner. The work he’s doing at the University of Fairbanks Alaska Bristol Bay Campus is tedious, but revolutionary. Four years ago, a pregnant whale washed up on Dillingham shores. Now, he’s working on what UAF […]

  • Politics

    Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation lets public weigh in on bills to change fund spending

    by Liz Raines on Feb 09, 20:50

      Updated at 6:25 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 10 JUNEAU — The Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation will hold a meeting at 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 19 at the Atwood building in Anchorage to discuss three bills in the Legislature that would impact the workings of the fund. Those bills include the governor’s proposed Senate Bill […]

  • News

    Predictions show southcentral Alaska at risk in 2016 wildfire season

    by Bonney Bowman on Feb 09, 20:29

      ANCHORAGE — The conditions are right for an early and damaging wildfire season. How do experts know? The science behind predicting where the fire season will spark looks at available fuel, past precipitation and the weather right now. Alaska’s 2015 wildfire season was the second biggest on record, with more than five million acres […]

  • News

    Mardi Gras keeps bakers busy making king cakes

    by Heather Hintze on Feb 09, 20:06

      ANCHORAGE — On “Fat Tuesday,” House of Bread bakers were sending king cakes out the door as fast as they could make them. “We’ve made about 100 but we have another batch coming up and we keep getting people coming in and we’re running out,” said manager Carson Baldiviez around 10:30 that morning. “It’s […]

  • DayBreak

    Travel Tuesday: Go West Summit

    by Daybreak Staff on Feb 09, 17:07

    With the state grappling with a massive deficit, low oil prices and the loss of jobs in the oil industry, tourism has never been more important. That’s why a special travel-related event later this month couldn’t come at a better time. Tuesday, Julie Saupe, the President and CEO of Visit Anchorage joined Daybreak to talk […]

  • News

    N. Korea used a cagey new trick in rocket launch

    by CBS/AP on Feb 09, 16:58

    Minutes after North Korea launched its rocket, South Korea’s navy detected a rain of fragments falling into the sea and then a sooner-than-expected disappearance of the rocket from their radar, suggesting a possible failure. News outlets working in real time jumped on the idea. But it quickly proved wrong. South Korean officials and foreign analysts say […]

  • Crime

    Anchorage correctional officer assaulted by inmate

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 09, 16:47

    A correctional officer working at the Anchorage Correctional Complex was assaulted by an inmate Tuesday, according to Alaska State Troopers. Troopers were notified of the attack just before noon, an online dispatch explained. The Alaska Bureau of Investigation’s Major Crimes Unit was also notified. The officer received minor injuries and was taken to a nearby […]