Warnings regarding the seaworthiness of the doomed South Korean ferry Sewol were ignored, prosecutors said Wednesday, as rescuers struggled to recover more than 90 bodies still trapped within the sunken ship’s hull.
AFP reports that the regular captain, who was not working on the vessel the day it sank, repeatedly warned the ferry owners of serious stability problems, according to senior prosecutor Yang Jong-jin.
While the confirmed death toll from the April 16 tragedy currently stands at 210, there are 92 people still missing and presumed dead. All 15 crew members who helped navigate the ship have been taken into custody, accused of negligence and failing to help passengers.
The day following the disaster, Kim Han-sik, the 71-year-old CEO of owning company Chonghaejin Marine, issued a tearful apology for the "horrible tragedy" and appeared to take responsibility along with his senior colleagues for the "grave sin" that allowed it to take place.
A total of 476 people were aboard the 6,825-ton Sewol, most of them high school students, when it began to list heavily and eventually capsized. The Japanese-made vessel had an extra deck added to its upper levels, and investigators wonder whether this adversely affected its stability.