south korea ferry disaster
Getty Images/CHUNG SUNG-JUN
The captain of the ferry that sank off the South Korean coast is speaking out for the first time since Wednesday's incident. Covering his face in a gray hoodie, Lee Joon-seok told Korean media he was "deeply ashamed" and apologized. He is the center of a criminal investigation by police.
Survivors and the families of the 300 people missing, most of whom are teenagers, are accusing 69-year-old Lee and his crew of quickly abandoning the ship as it started sinking. The ferry operator said Lee was filling in for the route's usual captain, but had 40 years worth of sailing experience and traveled the route before.
As the investigation continues, text messages from those on board reveal how chaotic the scene was. "Mom, I might not be able to tell you in person. I love you," wrote one passenger, who was rescued, to his mother. With nine people dead and hope quickly fading for the hundreds more still missing, the incident is being labeled South Korea's worst maritime accident in two decades.