Sewol-ho ferry and marine control tower communicated for 30 mins before crew members started escapingUpdated: 2014-04-20 16:15:11 (KST)
And for the latest on the investigation, we now go over to our Laah Hyun-kyung, standing by at the news center.
Hyun-kyung, what can you tell us?
The transcript of what was said between the Sewol-ho ferry and the Jindo Vessel Traffic Service, the marine traffic control tower for the area, has been made public.
The transcript shows that the first contact between the two was made at 9:06 a.m. Wednesday.
They contacted each other eleven times and communicated for 31 minutes.
The last time the two made contact was at 9:37 a.m., and reports say that's when the crew members started to leave the ferry.
At around 9:25, the control center told the ferry to decide whether to order passengers to abandon the vessel, since it didn't know the situation there.
But it's not known whether an evacuation announcement was actually made to the passengers.
What is known, however, is during their last contact, the ferry told the control tower that only the people who were able to escape to the left side of the ferry were able to leave the vessel.
The control tower also ordered nearby vessels to throw life vests into the ocean.
A senior crew member was apparently contacting the control tower.
But whether the captain, who's facing tremendous criticism for escaping the ship before the passengers, was in the steering room is not known yet.
What we need more information on is why the captain didn't inform the passengers promptly about the situation during that 30-minute time frame.
And why the crew members evacuated before the passengers.
And Daniel , this is just coming in. Prosecutors have launched an official investigation into the operator of the Sewol-ho ferry, Cheong Haejin Marine company, as well as the owner of the ship. The prosecution has ordered a travel ban on some 30 to 40 company personnel including the crew members.
Alright, Hyun-kyung, do keep us updated on that. In the meantime, the two affected areas by the accident could be declared as special disaster zones later today, correct?
Earlier in the day Presidential Office Spokesman Min Kyung-wook
told reporters that President Park Geun-hye will likely approve
declaring Ansan. in Gyeonggi-do province near Seoul, and Jindo island in southwestern Jeollanam-do province, as special disaster zones.
Danwon High School, where most of the student passengers on the ferry were from, is located in Ansan.
And Jindo Island is where the Paengmok-hang Harbor, the nearest harbor from the sunken ferry, is.
Once President Park gives the green light, which could come as early as later today, then the government can provide funds to the rescue and search operations and give financial assistance to the victims and their families as well as those that are still waiting for their loved ones to return.
Alright, Hyun-kyung. Please do keep us updated.
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