An arrest warrant was issued on Friday for Lee Joon Suk, the captain of the ferry that sank off the coast of South Korea – leaving an estimated 29 people dead and about 270 people, mostly students, missing.
The cause of the accident still isn’t known.
“It is not clear where [the captain] was when the accident occurred, although it is clear that he was not in the steering room before the actual accident happened,” state prosecutor Jae-Eok Park said Friday.
“I am really sorry and deeply ashamed. I don’t know what to say,” Mr. Lee had told a group of reporters on Thursday, television footage showed.
The captain was one of at least 174 people rescued soon after Wednesday’s sinking.
The charges against the captain were not announced. It is possible he could be charged with dereliction of duty and even attempted murder, maritime law attorney Jack Hickey told CNN.
“This captain violated the age-old rule and internationally recognized rule that a captain must stay on the vessel,” Hickey said.
He added, “Pretty much every law, rule, regulation and standard throughout the world says that yes, the captain must stay with the ship until all personnel are safely off of the ship, certainly passengers.”
From the Associated Press: “a transcript of a ship-to-shore exchange and interviews showed the captain delayed evacuation for half an hour after a South Korean transportation official ordered preparations to abandon ship.”
Time will only tell if the Captain’s mistake proved fatal to the missing 270 people.