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Latest on investigation; total of 7 crew members now detained

Updated: 2014-04-22 20:58:14 KST
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And the investigation into WHY and HOW the crew got off the ferry, while hundreds of passengers were still inside, continues.
For the latest, our Laah Hyun-kyung joins us in the studio.
More crew members are now put behind bars?

Just a couple of hours ago, the Gwangju District Court issued detention warrants for the four additional crew members that were arrested yesterday -- they are not the three, including the captain, that were already taken into custody over the weekend.
So, in total, seven of the ferry's crew members are now detained.
The four crew members claim they tried to correct the ferry when it started to list but failed because there was something wrong with the navigation equipment.
Contrary to wide speculation, they also claim the captain DID issue an evacuation order.
As for the Korea Coast Guard pointing out the crew's failure to release 14 life floats, which they passed on their way to the rescue boats, they said they DID try to release the floats but failed because they were out of reach.
Each of those life floats could have carried up to 25 people.
Earlier in the day, the Coast Guard said it was about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when the regional rescue team arrived at the accident site.
It took the team about 30 minutes to get there, which means coast guard officials were aware of the situation at 9 a.m.
An initial investigation had revealed the crew members started to escape the sinking ship at around 9:37 a.m. -- which was only about 10 minutes after the passengers were last told to stay put with their life vests on, by the crew.
As a result, most of the crew members were able to get onto the rescue boats and escape the ferry while hundreds of passengers were going down with the ship.
Investigators are also considering charging some of the crew with homicide.

Multiple factors have caused this tragic accident to happen. One of them could be the ferry's operator?

The National Tax Service launched a special probe today, into four firms that are closely related to the ferry's operator, Chonghaejin Marine Company.
The special investigation team also imposed travel bans on 30 additional personnel related to the operator.
The prosecution is also looking into whether the operator's management and the family which owns the company, evaded taxes or embezzled funds by making illegal overseas transactions.
The latest travel bans come after the president of the company Kim Han-sik and Yoo Byung-eon, former chairman of the company's parent firm, as well as his two sons, were banned from traveling this past Sunday.
The two sons are the biggest shareholders of the operator's holding company with former chairman Yoo said to be the practical owner of the firm.
The Yoo family reportedly has more than 230 million dollars worth of assets -- that's excluding debt and assets kept outside of Korea.
Reports say former chairman Yoo established 13 overseas corporate branches and used them to snowball the family's assets.

And the maritime ministry is looking into revoking the operator's business license.

Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries is considering revoking the ferry operator's license.
A ministry official says although the capsized ship needs to be salvaged before any conclusion is made on whether the operator INDEED contributed to the ferry's sinking, the crew's failure to evacuate the passengers is enough to revoke its license.


Reporter : jlaah@arirang.co.kr

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fatboyme (USA) 2014-04-23    

Will this help?