UK & World News
South Korea Ferry Tragedy 'A Murderous Act'
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye has said the captain and some crew members of the sunken ferry committed "unforgivable, murderous acts" in the disaster.
Ms Park, who was heckled on Thursday when she met relatives of missing passengers, claimed it was increasingly clear Captain Lee Joon-Seok had unnecessarily delayed the evacuation as the capsized Sewol started sinking.
Ms Park told a Cabinet meeting: "What the captain and part of the crew did is unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense, unforgivable, murderous behaviour." Her comments were posted on the website of the presidential Blue House.
She criticised 69-year-old Lee for "deserting" the passengers by "escaping first", adding: "Legally and ethically, this is an unimaginable act."
She added that all parties to the disaster, the owners, safety inspectors and crew would be investigated, and all those responsible would be held "criminally accountable".
Her comments came as local TV stations aired a 2010 promotional video in which Lee said ferries offer the safest public transport "as long as you follow the instruction of our crew".
The video shows a smiling Lee, in his captain's whites, promising a "safe and comfortable" journey from the western port of Incheon to the southern resort island of Jeju - the same route taken by the ill-fated Sewol.
Lee was arrested on Saturday along with a helmsman and the ship's relatively inexperienced third officer, who was in charge of the bridge when disaster struck.
Lee was charged with negligence and failing to secure the safety of the passengers, most of them children travelling to the resort island of Jeju on a school trip.
Senior prosecutor Ahn Sang-don has said four more crew members - two first mates, one second mate and a chief engineer - have been detained on allegations of failing to protect passengers and abandoning ship.
Lee and the crew, most of whom escaped the ferry, have faced criticism for delaying the order to abandon ship - a possibly fatal error of judgement before the vessel fully submerged on Wednesday with 476 people on board.
Meanwhile, the confirmed death toll jumped to 80 as divers stepped up the recovery of bodies, but 222 people are still missing.
A government spokesman said they were putting into place measures to make it easier for families to collect the bodies of their loved ones.
He also said additional funding for the search and recovery operation would be prepared if needed.