Off-duty captain warned ferry had stability risks

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 30, 2014 at 7:55 am •  Published: April 30, 2014
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MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — An off-duty captain of the sunken South Korean ferry has told investigators that the owners ignored his warning that the ship shouldn't carry too much cargo because it wasn't very stable, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

The captain, whom prosecutors will only identify by his surname, Shin, was on vacation on the day of the accident two weeks ago that has left more than 300, mostly high school students, dead or missing and has caused widespread shame and grief. The ferry was piloted April 16 by a substitute captain, Lee Joon-seok, who is now being detained along with 14 other crew members who were involved in navigating the Sewol.

Yang Jung-jin, a senior prosecutor on the team investigating the sinking off the southern coast, wouldn't say when the captain warned the company and didn't know whether Shin made multiple warnings about stability.

A stability test report on Jan. 24 from the Korean Register of Shipping showed that the ferry became top-heavy and less stable after a modification of the ship from October 2012 to February 2013 that involved adding more cabins in some of the ship's floors.

Divers have recovered 212 bodies from the wreckage. They fought strong currents and floating debris inside the ship again Wednesday as they searched for 90 passengers still missing.

Senior prosecutor Ahn Sang-don, also part of the investigation team, said Wednesday that authorities detained two employees at Chonghaejin Marine Co. Ltd., the ferry's owner, on suspicions of accidental homicide stemming from professional negligence in connection with the sinking. Ahn wouldn't identify the employees.