‘Murder,’ South Korean Leader Says Of Ferry Captain’s Actions

By Mark Memmott NPR

“The conduct of the captain and some crew members is wholly unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense, and it was like an act of murder that cannot and should not be tolerated.”

Yonhap News says that was the word Monday from South Korean President Park Geun-hye as she spoke with senior aides about last week’s ferry disaster, which is feared to have killed about 300 people — most of them high school students who were on a trip to a popular resort island.

CNN has a slightly different version of the president’s words, though they convey the same message:

” ‘The actions of the captain and some of the crew are absolutely unacceptable, unforgivable actions that are akin to murder,’ Park said Monday in comments released by her office. She said she and other South Koreans were filled with ‘rage and horror.’ ”

According to Yonhap News, Park condemned Captain Lee Jun-seok for not moving more quickly to evacuate the 476 or so people who were on board and for being among the first who were able to get to safety:

“The captain did not comply with passenger evacuation orders from the vessel traffic service … and escaped ahead of others while telling passengers to keep their seats. This is something that is never imaginable legally or ethically,” she said.

As we reported Sunday, a transcript of the conversations between the ferry’s crew and local maritime authorities shows there was considerable confusion last Wednesday when something caused the ship to start listing. Within two hours, it had capsized and begun sinking.

Among Monday’s other developments:

— “Sixty-four people have been confirmed dead while 238 others are still unaccounted,” Yonhap News writes.

— “Divers are retrieving the bodies at a faster pace,” Reuters reports. Parents who have gathered in the port city of Jindo have “moved from [a] gymnasium to the pier to await news.”

— Seven members of the crew, including the captain, are now under arrest, according to The Washington Post and other news outlets.

On Morning Edition, NPR’s Anthony Kuhn reported about how a family’s grief was compounded by human error when they were told of one girl’s death — only to be shown a body that wasn’t hers.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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