South Korea Ferry's Captain & Crew Face Arrest, And Here's Exactly Why

The captain of the sunken South Korean ferry and two other crew members are facing arrest for abandoning their sinking ship and its hundreds of passengers, most of them high school students. On Friday, 28 people were confirmed dead in the disaster, and 268 others are still missing. Of those, 236 were students at Danwon High School, who faced more tragedy on Friday when their vice principal committed suicide.

Here's what authorities know so far about the captain and crew's actions:

  • For almost an hour, a crew member told passengers to stay put when the ship started dangerously tilting. The crew member making the announcements, Kang Hye-sung, kept giving them instructions to stay put until minutes before the ship started to fill up with water. "It was so hectic in the ship that I couldn’t even think to make any judgment," he said, according to The Washington Post.
  • The crew was told to abandon the ship a half hour before they started evacuating.
  • The captain, Lee Joon Seok, was one of the first to leave the sinking ship. He was rescued by the South Korean Coast Guard while Kang was still telling the ship's passengers to stay on board. In a brief statement on South Korean television, he apologized. "I am really sorry and deeply ashamed. I don't know what to say."
  • Three-fifths of the boat's crew are dead or missing in the wake of the accident, the Post points out, but 20 of the 29 crew are alive.
  • The captain wasn't steering when the ship began to tilt. He'd left the task to his third mate.
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South Korean authorities received arrest warrants for the captain, the third mate, and another crew member for abandoning the ship filled with students. The high schoolers were on their way to a four-day school trip to a resort island.

Rescuers have pumped air in the ship and repeatedly tried to gain access to its interior, where many of the students missing are presumed to be. They're hoping to find survivors in air pockets, but the sea has been rough and they've yet to gain access to the ship. No survivors have been found since Wednesday.

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