04/29/2014, 00.00
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South Korean President Park apologizes over ferry sinking

"I feel heavy-hearted after a lot of precious lives were lost due to this accident", Park said in an official report. Public anger over the sinking has been growing for crew members' conduct. The captain, the third mate and a helmsman face a life sentence.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - South Korean President Park Geun Hye apologized over a ferry sinking that left more than three hundred people dead or missing, the nation's worst maritime disaster in four decades. "I apologize to the people," Park said at a cabinet meeting today, according to a pool report issued by the presidential Blue House. "I feel heavy-hearted after a lot of precious lives were lost due to this accident."

Public anger over the sinking has been growing since footage emerged of crew members, including the captain, abandoning the Sewol ferry ahead of passengers. All 15 crew members involved in navigating the Sewol have been arrested. Captain Lee Joon Seok, 68, who wasn't on the bridge at the time of the incident, the third mate named Park, who was steering the vessel, and a helmsman Cho, who was with Park, face a life sentence on charges including homicide through abandonment and homicide through occupational negligence, prosecutors said yesterday.

A group of 339 students and teachers from Danwon High School in Ansan, near Seoul, were on the ferry as part of a four-day field trip to Jeju; 250 students are among the 302 dead and missing from the sunken vessel. Immediately after the sinking, the bishop of the Diocese of Cheju (which includes the island of Jeju) Msgr. Peter Kang U -il, told AsiaNews: "We can only pray to the Lord to help the victims and their families, and hope that prayer and solidarity can somehow comfort the people involved in this disaster". 


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