South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday said that the behaviour of the captain of the ferry that sank with over 476 people on board ‘tantamount to murder.’
“The actions of the captain and some crew members were utterly incomprehensible, unacceptable and tantamount to murder,” the presidential Blue House quoted Park as saying in a meeting with senior aides, the report says.
The death toll increased to 64 after divers retrieved 32 more bodies from the ship. Meanwhile, details of the transcript detailing last conversations between the ferry and traffic services reveal the crew’s panic and confusion that led to loss of precious minutes that could have been crucial in preventing loss of lives.
The transcript discloses a crew member asking a marine traffic controller thrice whether there were enough rescue boats to evacuate the passengers trapped in the ferry.
The traffic controller official told the crew member to make the passengers wear life jackets and escape the sinking ship.
“The rescue of human lives from the Sewol ferry … The captain should make his own decision and evacuate them. We don’t know the situation very well. The captain should make the final decision and decide whether you’re going to evacuate passengers or not.”
“I’m not talking about that,” the crew member said. “I asked, if they evacuate now, can they be rescued right away?” the said reported.
The crew member was then informed that a civilian ship nearby would take part in the rescue and patrol boats will reach in 10 minutes.
The captain of the ship, Lee Joon-seok, along with two other crew members have been arrested.
He later apologised to the families of the passengers in a televised address.
The South Korean ferry sank five days ago with over 400 people on board. Out of these, 339 were students and teachers from a single high school who were on an outing.