South Korea ferry disaster: All 15 crew members detained as divers find 48 bodies in single room

Arrests come as South Korean government admits some bodies recovered from the ferry disaster have been misidentified

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The Independent Online

All 15 crew members involved in navigation on the South Korea ferry which capsized last week have now been detained after four more were arrested on Saturday, the prosecutor investigating the disaster has said.

Prosecutor Yang Jung-jin of the joint investigation team said two helmsmen and two members of the steering crew were detained today. Eleven other crew members, including the captain, had been arrested previously.

They are accused of negligence and of failing to help passengers in need as the Sewol ferry sank with 476 people on board on 16 April.

The captain allegedly told passengers to stay in their rooms and took half an hour to issue an evacuation order, by which time the ship was listing severely.

On Friday the government admitted that some recovered bodies had been misidentified and announced a series of changes to prevent such mistakes from happening again. Remains will now be transferred to families when there is a match using DNA testing or fingerprint or dental records.

Search officials including a navy spokesman and a diver said 35 of the ferry's 111 rooms have been searched so far, the Yonhap News Agency reported. They said 48 of the bodies recovered were found were in a single large room built to accommodate 38.

Officials leading the search effort said today divers have reached two large rooms where many of those missing could be, but the search had to be suspended because of bad weather.

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"This morning (the divers) did a primary dive, but because of the strong current they were losing their masks, so we have stopped the dive for now," Kim Jin-hwang, a South Korean navy official in charge of commanding the dive search, said during a briefing at Jindo.

He said the search would resume once conditions improve, but it was unclear when that would happen.

The majority of the 300 dead or missing victims were from a high school near the capital of Seoul after the ferry sank while travelling from Incheon to Jeju Island. Divers have recovered 187 bodies so far.