South Korea Ferry Captain, 3 Crew Members Charged With Homicide

The captain of the sunken South Korean ferry and three of his crew members were charged with homicide on Thursday. If convicted, all four could face could face the death penalty.

Capt. Lee Joon-seok, a first mate, a second mate, and the ship's chief engineer were indicted Thursday morning by prosecutors, who allege their negligence led to the death of more than 300 people, the majority of whom were high school students.

Eleven other crew members from the Sewol were indicted on lesser charges of alleged negligence and abandoning passengers. From the Associated Press:

The 15 indicted crew members were among the first group of people rescued when the Sewol began badly listing, and all were arrested last month.

Lee initially told passengers to stay in their cabins and took about half an hour to issue an evacuation order but it's not known if his message was ever conveyed to passengers. In a video taken by the coast guard, he was seen escaping the ferry in his underwear to a rescue boat while many passengers were still in the sinking ship.

284 bodies have been retrieved from the ship since it sank about a month ago, and another 20 are still missing. 172 people, including 22 of the ship's 29 crew members, survived the accident.

[Image via AP]