President Park Geun-hye's chief aide, Kim Ki-choon , has rejected claims that the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae is the ultimate control tower in dealing with disasters.
Speaking at a meeting of the special National Assembly committee on the Sewol-ho ferry disaster on Thursday, the Presidential Chief of Staff said the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters under the security ministry played the role of the control tower.
He went on to say that the presidential office is only responsible for reporting the situation to the president, not for ordering rescue operations.
Kim has come under fire from lawmakers who say he is responsible for mishandling the rescue operations.
The president's chief aide criticized the coast guard's sloppy handling of the situation, but said the main culprits were the ferry's captain and crew who abandoned the passengers.