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South Korea Ferry Disaster

South Korean Ferry Captain Taken Into Custody

The captain of the sunken ferry in South Korea was taken into custody Friday and is facing five charges, including criminal negligence.

Captain Lee Joon-seok, 68, is also charged with abandoning the ship, negligence, causing bodily injury and not seeking rescue from other ships. Lee was not charged with manslaughter.

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that two crew members were also arrested.

Lee hesitated a half hour before giving passengers the direction to abandon ship, a transcript of a ship-to-shore exchange and interviews with surviving crew members revealed Friday.

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The ship was at a disastrous tilt before Lee ordered people to get into lifeboats, and many could not navigate the slant at that point, Oh Yong-seok, a helmsman on the ferry, told The Associated Press.

Investigators are also examining whether a sharp turn the ship made 10 minutes before its first distress call was planned and if that veer caused the ship to list more than five degrees away from vertical — the point beyond which it is difficult for a ship to recover.

Lee was one of about 179 survivors of Wednesday's sinking. Twenty-eight people are confirmed dead, but the number is expected to spike drastically with 270 still missing.

Image: Lee Joon-Seok, captain of the South Korean ferry Sewol which capsized on Wednesday, arrives at a court in Mokpo
Lee Joon-Seok, captain of the South Korean ferry Sewol which capsized on Wednesday, arrives at a court in Mokpo April 18, 2014. YONHAP via Reuters