All Able Sailors Abandoned Passengers on Sinking Ferry

A total of 24 crew were aboard the ill-fated ferry that sank off the southeast coast last week, and all 15 able sailors among them escaped with their lives. But only three of the nine crewmembers who were not sailors, such as clerks and cooks, were rescued, with two killed and four missing.

A comparison between the crew roster and a list of survivors on Sunday shows that all able sailors including captain Lee Joon-seok (69) were rescued. The sailors consisted of eight deck staff that steer the ferry and seven engineering crew that operate the engine room.

Lee Joon-seok, the captain of the Sewol, is being arrested on Saturday. Lee Joon-seok, the captain of the Sewol, is being arrested on Saturday.

A transcript of a conversation between the Sewol and the Jindo maritime traffic service published on Sunday shows that the sailors started bailing out at 9:37 a.m., less than 50 minutes after the ferry began rolling over, as did the engineers.

During questioning by the Korea Coast Guard, three engineers, who had been working in the engine room on the first floor testified that they escaped after receiving a phone call from the chief engineer, identified as Park, who was resting in a cabin on the fifth floor, telling them to abandon ship.

A Coast Guard officer said, "They took advantage of their knowledge of the ferry's layout and easier communication to ensure their own survival rather than saving the passengers."

But the service crew were not so lucky. They were helping passengers or still cooking meals on the third or fourth floor. Most of them lost the chance to escape in time because they were helping passengers until the last moment.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 21, 2014 10:26 KST

Related Articles