South Korea ferry: Captain could face criminal investigation as warrant is sought

South Korea's president urged rescue teams to 'hurry' as search for survivors of capsized ship enters a second day

The captain of the Sewol ferry in South Korea could face a criminal investigation amid unconfirmed claims he abandoned ship after it capsized with over 470 passengers, most of them school students, on board.

Lee Joon-seok, 69, is being questioned, coastguard officials said, amid reports that he was one of the first to jump to safety from the stricken vessel.

Some survivors told local media Lee was one of the first to be rescued, although none actually saw him leave the ship. The coastguard and the ferry operator declined to comment.

A crew member has since claimed an immediate evacuation order was not issued because officers on the bridge were trying to stabilise the vessel after it started to list amid confusion and chaos.

Oh Yong-seok, 58, said he wasn't sure if the captain's order, given to crew members, was actually relayed to passengers on the public address system. Several survivors also said they did not hear an evacuation order.

Lee Joon-Seok, captain of the South Korean ferry that capsized at sea off the coast of Jindo, is interviewed at Mokpo police station in Mokpo Lee Joon-Seok, captain of the South Korean ferry that capsized at sea off the coast of Jindo, is interviewed at Mokpo police station in Mokpo The exact cause of the incident has not yet been established and Lee is currently being investigated by police, according to local media. "I am really sorry and deeply ashamed. I don't know what to say," he was shown as saying on local television.

At a press conference today, the Chief of the West Regional Headquarters of the South Korean Coastguard Kim Soo-hyun said he would approve civilian divers who wanted to assist the search, providing there was "trust" between them and official search teams.

Speaking today, South Korean President Park Geun-hye urged rescue teams to "hurry" as time was running out in the hunt for survivors

Read more: Powerful images show dramatic rescue operation as search continues

Earlier, relatives waiting desperately for news of their loved ones reacted with fury when Prime Minister Chung Hong-won visited a gymnasium in Jindo, a nearby island, with some throwing water at him.

Another relative hit a government official briefing those who had gathered at the gym on the rescue operation following reports that passengers had been told to stay on the ship as it sank.

Grieving parents also accused rescue teams of being slow to react and of providing a lack of information.

As frustration grew, some parents of missing school children hired their own boat on Wednesday night. They appeared to blame the government of President Park Geun-hye and rescue officials for not making a big enough effort.

"Since the government refused to take us to the scene, 11 parents chipped in 61,000 won ($58.79) each to hire a boat and took a reporter and a diver. But there was no rescue operation going on," one father said.

A relative (R) of a passenger on board a capsized ferry hits a South Korean government official (L-name unavailable) as the official briefs the rescue situation at a gym in Jindo A relative (R) of a passenger on board a capsized ferry hits a South Korean government official as he briefs the rescue situation at a gym in Jindo

Earlier, rescue teams hammered on the hull of the upturned, mostly submerged vessel, hoping for a response from anyone trapped inside, but they heard nothing, local media reported.

Some 325 school children from the Danwon High School in Ansan, a Seoul suburb, were among the passengers on board the vessel, which was heading to the popular tourist island of Jeju. Nine people have been found dead and at least 280 are still missing.

Teams of divers fought rising winds, strong waves and murky waters through the night to locate those missing after the MV Sewol sank off the south-western coast of South Korea.

The dramatic rescue operation began two hours after the ship started listing severely and the ferry filled with water. Several survivors said passengers were told to remain where they were by on board announcements.

Cha Eun-ok, who was on the deck taking photographs at the time, said an “on-board announcement told people to stay put... people who stayed are trapped”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower