The death toll in the Sewol ferry disaster is creeping higher without any signs of additional survivors. As we learn more about the accident, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that human error is to blame for what is sure to be a devastating number of fatalities.
According to the JoongAng Ilbo, 20 of the 29 crew members, including Captain Lee Jun-seok, abandoned the Sewol without ever revising their earlier instructions to passengers to stay put. Lee was rescued barely 50 minutes after the ship issued its initial distress call – and a staggering hour and a half before the ship completely capsized.
James Shirley, an accident investigator in Newtown, Pa., tells the New York Times that the two and a half hours it took for the Sewol to sink provided the crew with enough time to get most of the passengers off the ship:
I don’t understand why the crew would be instructing passengers to stay inside the ship. I would think that if nothing else, they would be getting them outside with life jackets on so if it sank, they could at least get into the cold water with their jackets.