On April 16, a South Korean Ferry sank with 476 passengers on board. As of Tuesday, April 22, only 174 have survived, 150 are confirmed dead and 152 people remain missing.
Sewol, the South Korean Ferry, was carrying over 300 students for an annual high school strip to a tourist island of Jeju. Only 75 of the 174 survivors are students. This is the worst maritime disaster South Korea has had.
Lee Joon-seok, the captain of Sewol and six other crewmembers have been arrested while authorities are trying to figure out the cause of this disaster.
Although the cause of why the ferry sank is still unknown, Captain Lee delayed the evacuation order until the ferry was listing so much that many of the passengers were trapped inside. Captain Lee said that the currents were too strong and the water was too cold to evacuate.
The Sewol began communicating with the Jeju Vessle Traffic Services Center as it started to encounter problems. The conversation lasted 30 minutes. In the first five minutes of the conversation the center advised to begin evacuation protocol. Twelve minutes later the center asked if the passengers had began to evacuate, the crewmember replied, “No, they haven’t yet. They can’t move because the vessel has listed.”
According to CNN, South Korean President Park Geun-hye described the actions of the captain and a few crewmembers as “akin to murder.”
“The captain did not comply with passenger evacuation orders from the vessel traffic service… and escaped ahead of others while telling passengers to keep their seats. This is something that is never imaginable legally or ethically,” President Park said.
According to South Korean media, Captain Lee has been charged with negligence, abandoning his boat, causing bodily injury and not seeking rescue from other ships.
Captain Lee could face five years to life in prison if convicted.