Prosecutors seek arrest warrant for captain of sunken S. Korean ferry

Investigators looking into the sinking of the 'Sewol,' a passenger and cargo ferry, off the coast of South Korea, want to talk with the ship's captain who made it off the boat alive.

Yonhap/AP
Lee Joon-seok, the captain of a sunken ferry in the water off the southern coast of South Korea, arrives to be investigated at Mokpo Police Station in Mokpo, South Korea, Thursday, April 17, 2014.

Prosecutors say they've asked a court to issue an arrest warrant for the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago, leaving hundreds missing and feared dead.

Prosecutors said Friday that they have also requested arrest warrants for two other crewmembers.

The investigation into the ferry disaster has focused on the sharp turn it took just before it started listing and whether a quicker evacuation order by the captain could have saved lives. Investigators are also determining whether the captain abandoned the ship.

Rescuers are struggling to find about 270 people still missing and feared dead.

At least 28 bodies have been recovered. Officials said there were 179 survivors and about 270 people remain missing, many of them high school students.

Police said a high school vice principal who had been rescued from the ferry was found hanging Friday from a pine tree on Jindo, an island near the sunken ship where survivors have been housed. He was the leader of a group of 323 students traveling on the ship on a school excursion, and said in a suicide note that he felt guilty for being alive while more than 200 of his students were missing.

The ship had left the northwestern port of Incheon on Tuesday on an overnight journey to the holiday island of Jeju in the south with 476 people aboard. It capsized within hours of the crew making a distress call to the shore at 9 a.m. Soon, only its dark blue keel jutted out over the surface. By late Friday, even that had disappeared, and rescuers floated two giant beige buoys to mark the area. Navy divers attached underwater air bags to the 6,852-ton ferry to prevent it from sinking further, the Defense Ministry said.

Coast guard officials said divers began pumping air into the ship in an attempt to sustain any survivors.

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