The reason for the sinking has not yet been made clear, however it has emerged that at the time Sewol began listing the vessel’s third-mate was in charge of steering, while captain Lee Joon-seok was absent.
The vessel was carrying 476 passengers and crew, 339 of who were children and teachers on a school trip. Divers continue to search the ship, with a robot deployed to float Sewol’s upturned hull. So far, 174 have been rescued.
Korean President Park Geun-hye condemned the tragedy as “akin to murder” after crew failed to instruct passengers to wear life jackets. Reports suggest passengers were instructed to remain in their cabins while crew fled the sinking vessel. The captain, two first mates, one second mate and a chief engineer have since been arrested on negligence charges.
"Above all, the conduct of the captain and some crew members is unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense, and it was like an act of murder that cannot and should not be tolerated,” Park was quoted by Yonhap News Agency as telling aides.