Ferry Crash: Death Toll Rises To 28 As Footage Reveals That Kids Were Forced To Stay Put; Captain Was MIA

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The footage, taken on passengers’ mobile phones, reveals a scene of panic and chaos, as they put on life jackets and braced themselves for the worst. In one video (which can be seen above), a young woman filmed the disaster as it struck, and she can be heard trying to explain to her parents on the phone what is happening. “The ship is tilted, there is water filled, I don’t know what to do,” she said. She ends the call by saying: “Mum, bye, I love you.” It is understood that the girl who shot this video is still missing. In other footage, a woman can be heard desperately screaming: “The water’s coming, the water’s coming!” In the video below, believed to be filmed by students with mobile phones on the ferry, passengers can be seen in their orange life jackets, waiting to be rescued. Passengers on the sinking ferry faced a terrifying choice as the vessel sank: obey commands to stay calm and stay on the ship from loudspeakers, or put on life vests and jump into the freezing ocean water. “Don’t move,” a voice warned, according to a recording obtained by CNN affiliate YTN. “If you move, it’s dangerous. Don’t move.” That announcement, some witnesses worried, may have cost some passengers on the ferry Sewol their lives. “Kids were forced to stay put,” one survivor told CNN affiliate YTN, “so only some of those who moved survived.” Their harrowing stories on film come as the captain is being investigated by police, after it was revealed he was not at the helm of the ferry that capsized two days ago. “The captain was not in command when the accident took place,” prosecutor Park Jae-Eok told a press briefing. The captain was “in the back” he added, without elaborating. The captain apologised to the victims and their relatives, but offered no clear explanation for what caused the Sewol to capsize. “I feel really sorry for the passengers, victims and families,” Lee said. “I feel ashamed.” Anger also continues to spread over stalled rescue efforts for the hundreds of missing passengers trapped by the submerged vessel. More than 48 hours after the 6,825-tonne Sewol suddenly listed and then sank, a small of army of more than 500 exhausted divers — battling powerful currents in almost zero visibility — have yet to obtain any access to the ferry’s interior. The confirmed death toll stood at 28, but the focus of concern remained the 268 people still unaccounted for — hundreds of them children on a high school outing to the southern resort island of Jeju. The newly recovered bodies were all floating in the water and none had been retrieved from the ship itself, coastguard officials said, as dive teams worked to find a way inside the submerged vessel in the increasingly slim hope of finding survivors trapped in air pockets. “Two divers are currently injecting oxygen into the ship,” a coastguard official said. The only visible piece of the ferry, a small stern section of the keel, slipped just below the surface on Friday afternoon. The weather conditions were challenging, with rain, fog and strong sea swells. Of the 475 people on board when the Sewol capsized, 179 were rescued, but no new survivors have been found since Wednesday. Three giant, floating cranes reached the disaster site, but regional coastguard commander Kim Soo-Hyun stressed they would not begin lifting the multi-deck ferry until they were sure there were no survivors inside. “I want to be clear: There won’t be any salvage work done against the will of the families,” he said. There were 352 students on board and for the parents of those who were not rescued there was bitter resentment at what they saw as the inadequacy of the official response. “It’s been two days but no one has been brought out alive,” complained Lee Yong-Gi, whose son was among the missing students. “I firmly believe that the kids are alive. We need to rescue them as soon as possible. But officials are dragging their feet,” Lee told AFP. Another father accused the authorities of indifference and deception in an appeal broadcast live on television. “The government lied yesterday,” he said, speaking from a podium in a gymnasium on Jindo island where hundreds of blanket-wrapped relatives have been sleeping on the floor since the tragedy unfolded. Disputing the official figures of hundreds of divers, vessels and aircraft being deployed, he said he and other relatives had visited the rescue site and seen only a dozen ships and helicopters. “Everyone, is this the reality of South Korea? We plead once more, please save our children,” he said. The initial public backlash has centred on the captain, Lee Joon-Seok, and his 28 crew, most of whom survived the disaster. State prosecutors said preliminary investigations showed the third officer was at the helm of the ferry. Tracking data from the Maritime Ministry showed that the ferry made a sharp turn just before sending its first distress signal. Some experts believe a tight turn could have dislodged the heavy cargo manifest — including more than 150 vehicles — and destabilised the vessel, causing it to list heavily and then capsize. But others suggested the turn might have been caused by a collision with a rock or other submerged object. Chief prosecutor Lee Seong-Yoon stressed there was “no limit” to the range of the investigation. “We will make sure … those responsible are sternly held accountable,” Lee said. As well the cause of the disaster, investigators will be looking at why passengers were ordered to stay in their cabins and seats for up to 40 minutes after the ferry ran into trouble. Furious relatives believe many more people would have escaped if they had reached evacuation points before the ship listed sharply and water started flooding in. Newspaper editorials were scathing with the Dong-A Ilbo daily calling the rescue response “ludicrous”. “We have the world’s finest shipbuilding industry in the 21st century, but our mindset is in the 19th century,” the newspaper said. -CNN

Ada Igboanugo

Ada Igboanugo

Unorthodox Female | Writer | PR Consultant. I am Titanium

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