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Head of sunken ferry's owner in S. Korea detained



By Hyung-Jin Kim

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korean prosecutors on Thursday detained the head of the company that owns the ferry that sank last month over an allegation of cargo overloading.

Authorities believe improper stowage and overloading of cargo are one possible reason the ferry sank on April 16, leaving more than 300 people dead or missing. Four employees at the ferry's owner Chonghaejin Marine Co. Ltd, who handled cargo on the Sewol, have already been arrested.

Kim Han-sik, president of Chonghaejin, was detained Thursday ahead of his possible formal arrest on allegations that he was aware that the ferry exceeded its cargo limit but didn't do anything before it started it trip, according to senior prosecutor Yang Jung-jin.

Yang said prosecutors are investigating Kim's actions before deciding if they will request a court to issue a warrant to formally arrest him.

All 15 surviving crew members involved in the ferry's navigation have been arrested, accused of negligence and failing to protect passengers.

More than three weeks after the sinking, 269 bodies have been retrieved but 35 others are still listed as missing. South Korea's prime minister said Wednesday that officials must try to complete the search for the missing by Saturday as tidal currents were forecast be weak until then.

But no progress has been reported as divers have failed to recover additional bodies since Wednesday afternoon due to high waves and strong winds, government task force spokesman Ko Myung-seok said.

Searches have been hampered by strong currents, bad weather and floating debris inside the ship. A civilian diver fell unconscious while searching and died on Tuesday, the first fatality among divers mobilized since the sinking.

The lengthy, difficult underwater search for bodies off South Korea's southern coast has deepened the anguish of families of missing people, who have been camping out at a nearby port waiting for the news of their loved ones.

Many South Koreans have been highly critical of the government's handling of the rescue effort, and the regulatory failures that may have allowed the disaster to happen.

On Wednesday, the government announced it miscounted the number of survivors, the latest in a series of missteps it has made that have eroded the nation's confidence in its leaders.

Coast guard chief Kim Suk-kyoon said 172 people survived the sinking of the ferry Sewol - not 174, as the government had been saying since April 18.

Kim said one of the survivors was accidentally listed twice, and he blamed the other mistake on an inaccurate report by a passenger.

Kim said there are two more missing passengers than authorities previously knew about. Both are Chinese nationals.

That change raises the number of people feared dead to 304. More than 80 percent of them are students from a single high school near Seoul who were on a trip to southern Jeju island.

There is evidence not only that the ship was overloaded with cargo, but that the agency responsible for ensuring passenger safety has incorrect information about how much the ship could safely carry.

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rcwarbirdbuilder May 08 2014 at 6:53 AM

Now if the USA well only force the truth to come about about 9/11 and the rampant corruption of the governing system.

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2 replies
shipdrver1 rcwarbirdbuilder May 08 2014 at 8:06 AM

Really? How does your comment relate to this story in any way what so ever? Do you post incoherant ramblings on every post you come upon?

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2 replies
Falstuff shipdrver1 May 08 2014 at 8:21 AM

It does. A much smaller democracy and an US ally, Korea, is setting an example of accountability by the administration. The instance certainly speaks eloquently of a greater transparency compared to the USA because Korean system, in all probability, does not include the monster agencies like the NSA, FBI or CIA who have their own agendas which may not necessarily be in the best interest of the American people.

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turnermone1 shipdrver1 May 08 2014 at 9:06 AM

I am currently living in Korea, dont fool yourself there is no so called transparency in their government. They cant even watch TV without extreme censorship, video cameras on the street out number the population and allow for no untracked movement. This is to hurry up and lay blame so they can push past this.

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Valerie rcwarbirdbuilder May 08 2014 at 9:29 AM

Your comment has what to do with this tragedy?

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2 replies
Valerie Valerie May 08 2014 at 9:31 AM

khairul.mahmoud...No, shipdrver1's comment has zero to do with, and neither does yours. You really aren't educated on Korea's government.

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doketx Valerie May 08 2014 at 11:01 AM

It has to do with it because it is an example of realizing with whom the buck stops, unlike our government, which pretty much does nothing as far as holding higher-ups accountable.

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alspoolhall May 08 2014 at 12:51 PM

The real issue here and everywhere is that if things are done correctly, each and every time, so many gut-wrenching and sad events wouldn't happen in the first place. Just do whatever you are doing right. No short cuts. When will we ever learn? We're pathetic.

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Tin Manne May 08 2014 at 11:33 AM

So, Everyone knew about the overloaded ferry. Someone should have been stopped the overloaded ferry. But No one did anything. Perhaps they will arrest the dock hands for actually over loading the ferry, the safety inspectors for not watching and the investors for demanding a profit on their money. This was all done in the name of the Almighty Dollar and to the glory and honor of Greed.

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2 replies
jewellings Tin Manne May 08 2014 at 11:55 AM

Definitely sound like those Republicans and Teapigs.

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1 reply
juststeve35 jewellings May 08 2014 at 1:24 PM

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight...

Because Democrats like Jon Corzine would NEVER behave this way??

smh

You are pathetic.

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topspin360 Tin Manne May 08 2014 at 12:49 PM

Absolutely, they did this numerous times, nothing happened before, so they figured it would be OK. This is why corporations need to be watched and why we have regulations. A certain segment of our society believes regulations should be enforced by industry, We know that's not a good idea.

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juststeve35 May 08 2014 at 1:21 PM

How refreshing to see a nation that holds those who benefit the most from their status within a corporation PERSONALLY ACCOUNTABLE for actions taken by that corporation that result in harm to the nation's citizenry.

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Scooter May 08 2014 at 2:32 PM

boycott cruises!! they are not safe!!

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Hi Kevin May 08 2014 at 11:03 AM

If only the USA holds companys this responsible for such disasters would happen then maybe these rich companies would take their responsibilities more seriously,such as big oil spill rigs and such...

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d1anaw May 08 2014 at 10:42 AM

It's about time. They've arrested or detained everyone but the owner who allowed the illegal activity in the first place. People who had no direct responsibility for the incident have resigned or committed suicide, while the owner, whose actions directly contributed, walked free. If they want someone to be outraged at besides the captian and the one who made the bad turn, it belongs with the owner.

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anvmd May 08 2014 at 10:08 AM

Of course it was overloaded and that cargo was probably not even balanced or secures properly. Maybe the ferry's small addition to add more passengers was too much for the ship. The fault lies HERE.

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condolences May 08 2014 at 2:43 PM

Feel so sorry for the parents, family, and friends. an entire class of bright young kids wiped out, just like that.

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Charles May 08 2014 at 9:49 AM

I Guess the point most people are trying to make is that our government here in the USA is the most corrupt government their is. But nothing will happen because the American people will never stand up to them. Just complain as they always do nothing more.

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