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S. KOREA FERRY DISASTER: Arrested ferry captain defends actions
Publication Date : 20-04-2014
The arrested captain of the ferry that capsized sank off Jindo Wednesday, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, defended his decision to delay its evacuation,
Lee Joon-seok, 68, was arrested early Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into custody, including a mate who a prosecutor said was steering in challenging waters unfamiliar to her when the accident occurred.
Dressed in dark raincoats with their hoods pulled up, the three kept their heads bowed as they were paraded before TV cameras in a police station.
Questioned as to why passengers had been ordered not to move for more than 40 minutes after the ship first foundered, Lee said it was a safety measure.
"At the time a rescue ship had not arrived. There were also no fishing boats around for rescuers, or other ships to help," Lee said.
"The currents were very strong and the water was cold at that time in the area.
"I thought that passengers would be swept far away and fall into trouble if they evacuated thoughtlessly," he added.
Experts have suggested many more people might have escaped if they had moved to reach evacuation points before the ship listed sharply and water started flooding in.