As captain of the first ship on the scene of the sinking South Korean ferry, Moon Ye-shik immediately sensed the enormity of the situation.
“The ship was listing (badly), 30 to 40 degrees,” he told CNN. “It was in such a bad condition, anyone would assume evacuation was well underway.”
Moon’s oil tanker, the Doola Ace, was only 200 meters away from the ferry Sewol when the distress call came, and was on the scene within minutes. But Moon saw few signs of the evacuation he expected.
Cell phone footage from the students onboard the ferry show the passengers had been told by authorities to stay put. “Please do not move from your location. Absolutely do not move,” were the instructions issued through the loudspeakers.
More than 300 people remain dead or missing, almost two weeks after the ferry sank on April 16.
Moon remains critical of the actions of the ferry crew, who are now in custody for negligence and failing to help the passengers. “They should have made the call for evacuation. So many lives would have been saved,” he told CNN.