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South Korea ferry owner held; may face manslaughter charges

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Sewol: The head of the company that operated the ill-fated ferry Sewol, was on Thursday detained for questioning by the prosecutors in wake of the sinking disaster that has left more than 300 people either dead or missing.

Kim Han-sik, president of Chonghaejin Marine Co. that operated the ferry, was detained on Thursday morning at his home in Bundang.

The ferry operator chief may face charges of manslaughter and maritime law violation.

Four other members of the ferry operator company have already been arrested. Also, 15 surviving crew members aboard the doomed ferry have been arrested.

According to the Yonhap agency, prosecutors suspect that the ferry capsized because of overloading that was either authorised or ignored by him.

According to senior prosecutor Yang Jung-jin, the ferry company chief was aware that the ferry was overloaded but he did nothing before its trip to Jeju Island. The investigators reportedly believe that the ferry capsized on taking a sharp turn as the heavy cargo containers came loose.

On the fateful day of sinking, the ferry is said to have been loaded with cargo weighing three times more than the ship’s capacity that was revised to 987 tonnes according to documents.

The 6,825-ton ferry was carrying 3,608 tons of cargo, including 108 vehicles and 476 passengers on April 16 when it sank off Jindo Island, killing 269 and leaving 35 missing.

Only 172 people were rescued in the deadly disaster.

Ferry Sewol carrying 476 people sank off Jindo Island while moving from Incheon port to Jeju Island.

Of 476 passengers, majority were the students and teachers from the same high school.

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