South Korea ferry disaster: Coast guard says distress call first distress call came from passenger, death toll rises

By Kyle Johnson,

The South Korean coast guard said on Tuesday that the first distress call came from a boy on the Sewol ferry rather than the crew manning it.

The boy called three minutes before any official distress call was made from the ship, the coast guard said, reports CNN. The boy called South Korea's emergency number and told the dispatcher, "Help us. The boat is sinking."

That revelation will likely only anger families of the schoolchildren on board the sunken ferry. More news has come out about the numerous poor decisions made by the crew, with the main issues still on why the third mate was guiding the ship, when he lacked experience, and why people were told to remain on the ship even as it was sinking.

The official death toll rose to 121 as divers were finally able to reach the cafeteria, where it is believed that many might have been gathered. There are still 181 that remain missing.

Traveling between the ship and the surface has been difficult for divers, even with guide ropes to help them along. The task force spokesman Koh Myung-seok said, "Divers can't even see their hands."

The ferry's captain Lee Joon-seok and two other crew members were arrested just days after the ship sank as it became clear where the blame should be placed. For whatever reason, Lee was not on the bridge while the inexperienced third mate was turning the ferry sharply.

CNN notes that so far a total of nine crew members are facing charges related to the sunken ferry.



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