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South Korean Ferry: Captain Accused of 'Murderous Behavior'

Image: Rescue team drivers prepare to search for ferry passengers on Monday
Rescue team divers prepare to search for ferry passengers off the southern coast near Jindo, South Korea, on Monday.AP

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South Korea's president accused the captain and crew of the country's sunken ferry of "unforgivable, murderous behavior" on Monday.

The captain of the Sewol ferry initially told passengers to stay in their rooms and waited more than half an hour to give the evacuation order. More than 300 people are either dead or missing five days after the disaster.

"What the captain and part of the crew did is unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense, unforgivable, murderous behavior," President Park Geun-hye told a Cabinet meeting. Her comments were posted on a government website and translated by The Associated Press.

The captain, 68-year-old Lee Joon-seok, and two crew members have been arrested on suspicion of negligence, and Park's comments came the same day as another four crew members were detained, prosecutors told the AP.

Image: Park Geun-hye
South Korean President Park Geun-hye looks at the site where the ferry sank from aboard a coast guard ship on Thursday.Ahn Young-joon / AP

Lee said he waited to give the order because the current was strong and people would have drifted before rescue arrived. As of Monday morning, at least 64 people were confirmed dead and around 240 were still missing.

WATCH: Death toll expected to jump sharply

Park said the captain did not follow a marine traffic controller's instructions to "make the passengers escape," but instead "told the passengers to stay put while they themselves became the first to escape."

"Legally and ethically, this is an unimaginable act," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

- Alexander Smith

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