By Gillian Wong and Hyung-Jin Kim ,AP
JINDO, South Korea–South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday that the captain and some crew members of the sunken ferry committed “unforgivable, murderous behavior,” while criticism of her own government’s handling of the disaster grew.
As divers continued to search the interior of the submerged vessel, the confirmed death toll rose to 86, according to information from the coast guard posted for the victims’ families. About 220 people remain missing. The captain initially told passengers to stay in their rooms and waited more than half an hour to issue an evacuation order as the ferry Sewol sank Wednesday. By then the ship had tilted so much it is believed that many of the roughly 240 people still missing could not escape.
Park said at a Cabinet briefing, “What the captain and part of the crew did is unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense, unforgivable, murderous behavior.” The comments were posted on the website of the presidential Blue House.
Park said instead of following a marine traffic controller’s instructions to “make the passengers escape,” the captain “told the passengers to stay put while they themselves became the first to escape.”
“Legally and ethically,” she said, “this is an unimaginable act.”
The captain, Lee Joon-seok and two crew members have been arrested on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need and prosecutors said Monday that four other crew members have been detained. Senior prosecutor Ahn Sang-don said prosecutors would decide within 48 hours whether to seek arrest warrants for the four: two first mates, a second mate and a chief engineer.
Lee, 68, has said he waited to issue an evacuation order because the current was strong, the water was cold and