Watch CBS News

Transcripts reveal crew's confusion when South Korean ferry sank

Newly released transcripts show the crew of the ferry that capsized off the coast of South Korea was crippled by indecision, causing a deadly lack of action.
South Korea ferry disaster: Transcripts reveal confusion among crew 03:10

JINDO, South Korea - Transcripts released Sunday show the crew of the ferry that sank off South Korea's coast was crippled by indecision. That lack of action, authorities believe, was deadly.

On Sunday, families of those still missing blocked the caravan of South Korea's prime minister, demanding answers, as divers began pulling bodies out of the water.

South Korea ferry disaster: Is inexperience to blame? 03:51
There were 476 people on board when the ferry sank Wednesday. At least 61 are now confirmed dead. About 240 are still missing,

Bodies came in on a police boat Sunday morning and were carried ashore in a grim, somber procession.

As names were added to the list of the dead, for some it was too much to bear.

Relatives of those still missing protested the slow rescue, confronting police on the street. Bae Sun-ok was among them.

She was sobbing by the water on Saturday. But Sunday, her tears turned to anger.

"I've heard they are all dead," she said. "Bring me the body so that I can see the face and hug my child."

When the ferry got into trouble, the captain had left the 25-year-old third mate steering the ship. It was her first time navigating that stretch of water.

Prosecutors and police say the third mate fainted during questioning.

In this handout image provided by the Republic of Korea Coast Guard, a passenger ferry sinks off the coast of Jindo Island on April 16, 2014, in Jindo-gun, South Korea. The Republic of Korea Coast Guard via Getty Images
As investigators try to pin down when the captain told passengers to evacuate, and whether he was criminally negligent, a newly released transcript of ship-to-shore radio communications shows the confusion as the ferry was sinking.

Half an hour after the ferry made its distress call, a crew member asked: "If the ferry evacuates passengers, will you be able to rescue them?"

The reply: "At least make them wear life rings and make them escape!"

A crew member repeats: "If the ferry evacuates passengers, will they be rescued right away?"

"Don't let them go bare - at least make them wear life rings and make them escape!" was the response from land.

A ferry that departed from Incheon, South Korea, sank on its way to the island of Jeju April 16, 2014.
CBS News
On Sunday, a CBS News crew found crew member Oh Yong-Seok in his hospital bed and asked him about the evacuation.

"We could not get to the passengers because there was such a steep slope," he said.

Oh said the boat was tilted too much to allow for an evacuation. but why was the evacuation order not issued earlier?

"That was a special privilege and right of the captain," Oh said, speaking in Korean."We cannot move until the captain tells us we can move. We cannot act independently."

The crewman said he did not know what wrong, saying only the captain and the person at the helm know that. Oh said the day the ferry sank was a nightmare and he is just sorry he couldn't rescue more people.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.