South Korean captain flees sinking ferry
South Korea coastguard releases video of the early stages of its rescue operation, showing the ferry captain escaping to safety after passengers were told to stay in their cabins on the capsized ship.PT1M8S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-37egb 620 349 April 29, 2014
The captain of the South Korean ferry that sank off the coast of a tourist island can be seen slipping away trouserless while hundreds of passengers remain on the doomed ship in a video clip released by Korea's coast guard.
The 10-minute video – taken by rescue officials and aired on Monday in South Korea – shows 69-year-old Captain Lee Joon-seok, wearing a jumper and underpants, hastily escaping from the bridge of the tilting ship before it sank on April 16.
The clip was taken shortly before the ferry became completely submerged in the Yellow Sea with hundreds of passengers still trapped below deck.
Lee Joon-seok, the captain of the sunken ferry boat arrives at the headquarters of a joint investigation team of prosecutors and police in Mokpo, south of Seoul, South Korea. Photo: AP
All 15 crew members involved in navigating the ferry have been taken into custody while prosecutors and a government taskforce try to determine exactly what happened. Mr Lee has said he initially withheld an evacuation order because rescuers were slow in arriving and he feared for passengers' safety in the cold water.
More than 100 people remain listed as missing since the 6825-ton ship Sewol capsized with more than 470 people on board. The confirmed death toll remains at 188. Authorities say 174 people, including most of the crew members, were rescued on the day of the accident, but no one has been found alive since.
The video clips were released on a day when storms, high winds and rough surf slowed the grim search for bodies. Divers have searched about 35 of 111 compartments on the ship, the Yonhap News Service reported, citing South Korea coast guard officials.
Rescue workers had considered using small explosives to gain access to some rooms, but the plan drew negative responses from some families of the missing passengers.
On Sunday, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won resigned amid public outrage over the government's response to the disaster.
"On behalf of the government, I want to apologise for a series of problems from preventive steps to the government's initial response and follow-up measures," he said in a Seoul news conference, as translated by The Korea Herald.
"Witnessing the sorrows of those who lost their loved ones and sadness and anger of the people, I felt the right thing for me to do was to take all responsibility as the prime minister."
President Park Geun-hye's office said she would wait until the ferry recovery effort has been fully resolved before formally accepting Mr Chung's resignation. A reshuffle of South Korea's cabinet was expected to be put on hold, the Herald reported.
An investigation that began after the Sewol capsized has uncovered irregularities in management of the ferry's operator, Mr Chung said. He said rampant "corruption and malpractices" in Korean society contributed to the disaster and urged that those issues be addressed.