South Korean authorities have arrested the captain of a ferry which sank two days ago with more than 470 people onboard.
Lee Joon-seok arrived in court late on Friday to face a prosecutor’s request for his formal arrest.
The captain faces several charges, including negligence of duty and violation of maritime law.
Official reports say an inexperienced crew member may have been at the ship’s control when it overturned.
Based on data provided by the Maritime Ministry, the ferry made a sharp turn just before sending out its first distress signals and some experts believe a tight turn could have displaced its cargo and destabilized the ferry.
Lee and most of his 28 crew, who reportedly managed to escape the ferry, have been criticized for abandoning the ship when so many passengers were still onboard. He has defended his decision to wait before ordering an evacuation that survivors say came 30 minutes after the boat was listed.
The ship was carrying mostly high school students on a trip to a resort island when it capsized.
Meanwhile, police said a high school vice-principal, who accompanied hundreds of students onboard the ferry, has committed suicide.
The 52-year-old had been missing since Thursday. He was found hanged from a tree in the port city of Jindo, where relatives of people still missing were gathered.
Teams of divers are striving to find a way inside the capsized ship in hope of finding survivors trapped in air pockets, amid challenging weather conditions.
Some rescuers got inside the submerged vessel on Friday, but did not immediately report finding any survivors.
So far, 28 passengers are officially listed as dead, 179 have been rescued and 268 are still missing.
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