Lee Joon-Seok (C) arrives at a court in Mokpo.
The captain of a South Korean ferry that capsized,
leaving 29 people dead and 274 others missing, has been
arrested, the country's Yonhap news agency says.
Yonhap said Captain Lee Joon-seok, 69, faced five charges
including negligence of duty and violation of maritime law.
Investigators had said earlier that Lee was not on the bridge
at the time the Sewol ferry started to list sharply on
Wednesday, with a junior officer at the wheel. Arrest
warrants were issued on Friday for Lee, the officer at the
wheel and one other crew member for failing in their duty to
not sure where the captain was before the accident. However,
after the accident, I saw him rushing back into the steering
of me," said Oh Young-seok, one of the helmsmen on the ship
who was off
duty and resting at the time.
"He calmly asked by how much the
ship was tilted, and tried to re-balance the ship," said Oh,
speaking from a hospital bed in the city of Mokpo on Friday,
injured have been taken.
The Sewol, carrying 476 passengers and crew, capsized on
Wednesday on a journey from the port of Incheon to the
southern holiday island of Jeju.
Handing over the
helm is normal practice on the voyage from Incheon to Jeju,
usually takes 13.5 hours, according to local shipping crew.
gained access to the cargo deck of the ferry on Friday,
was not close to the passenger quarters, according to a
Other coastguard officials said that divers made several
attempts to reach the passenger areas but failed.
cannot even see the ship's white colour. Our people are just
the hull with their hands," Kim Chun-il, a diver from Undine
Industries, told relatives of the missing.
The ferry went down in
calm conditions and was following a frequently travelled
familiar waters. Although relatively close to shore, the area
of rocks and reefs.
Lee has not commented on when he left the ship, although he
has apologised for the loss of life.
was described as an industry veteran by the officials from
Marine Co Ltd, the ship owner, and others who had met him
as an "expert".
"I don't know why he abandoned the ship like
that," said Ju Hi-chun, a maritime author who interviewed the
2006 as one of the experts on the route to Jeju island.
added: "Koreans don't have the view that they have to stay
ship until the end. It is a different culture from the West."
Some media reports have said the vessel turned sharply,
causing cargo to shift and the ship to list before capsizing.
investigators and the coastguard have said it was too early
a cause for the accident and declined to comment on the
the cargo shifting.
The record of the ferry owner was also under investigation
and documents were removed from its headquarters in Incheon.
Marine Co Ltd is an unlisted company that operates five
reported an operating loss of 785 million won ($756,000) last
to data from South Korea's Financial Supervisory Service, a
body, Chonghaejin is "indirectly" owned by two sons of the
owner of a
former shipping company called Semo Marine which went
bankrupt in 1997.