S. Korean president ‘sorry’ for ferry disaster

April 29, 2014 5:22 am

Kim Han-Sik, the CEO of Chonghaejin Marine, was summoned to the prosecutors’ office in the port city of Incheon, from where the ill-fated ferry departed

Kim, 71, issued a tearful apology for the “horrible tragedy” the day after the accident, saying he and other company officials were responsible for a “grave sin” in letting it happen.

Live footage Tuesday showed Kim – wearing a dark hat and a mask shielding most of his face – mobbed by TV crews and reporters as he limped into the prosecutors’ office, held up by two aides.

Kim faces charges including negligence, embezzlement and tax evasion related to the family that effectively owns the company, according to media reports.

On Monday, prosecutors raided the coastguard office in the southern port of Mokpo to probe allegations that it had failed to respond quickly enough to a passenger’s emergency call.

All 15 of the surviving crew responsible for sailing the huge ferry remain in custody, facing charges including negligence and abandoning passengers.

The public’s already dim view of the crew worsened Monday when the coastguard released a video showing the trouserless captain scrambling to safety as hundreds of his passengers remained trapped inside the ferry. READ: Video shows S. Korea ferry captain escape sinking ship.

The 10-minute video – taken by rescue officials – shows 69-year-old Lee Joon-Seok, wearing a sweater and underpants, hastily escaping from the bridge of the tilting ship.

The footage shows the open decks nearly empty, after crew repeatedly instructed passengers to stay in their cabins until it became impossible for them to evacuate.

The delay in the crucial final stages – when most crew members fled the ferry – sparked outrage that many lives could have been saved if passengers had received timely instructions.

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