South Korean PM resigns over ferry disaster | News | DW | 27.04.2014
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South Korean PM resigns over ferry disaster

South Korea's Prime Minister Chung Hong-won handed in his resignation on Sunday over the government's handling of the sinking of the Sewol ferry on April 16.

In a televised news conference on Sunday, Chung said that "keeping my post [is] too great a burden on the administration...on behalf of the government, I apologize for many problems from the prevention of the accident to the early handling of the disaster."

The resignation, which has to be approved by President Park Geun-hye, comes as the government faces increasing anger from the victims' relatives that it didn't do enough to rescue or protect passengers.

Both Park and Chung were booed and heckled when visiting grieving relatives at a shelter on an island near the site of the sinking.

In South Korea, the president is more powerful than the prime minister, so Chung's offer may be largely symbolic.

On Saturday, police arrested two helmsmen and two members of the steering team, the last of the surviving crew members from the 6,825-ton Sewol shipwreck to be taken into custody. Officials had already arrested the Sewol's captain, Lee Joon-seok, and 10 crew members on charges ranging from criminal negligence to abandoning passengers.

The ferry sank on a routine trip south from the port of Incheon to the traditional holiday island of Jeju with 476 people on board. More than 300 people, most of them students and teachers from one high school on a field trip, have died or are missing and presumed dead. The children were told to stay in their cabins, where they waited for further orders.

The confirmed death toll from the tragedy stood at 187 on Sunday, with 115 unaccounted for.

Divers have been grappling with strong winds, rough seas and poor visibility while searching for the missing bodies. On Saturday, they could not get into the ship at all due to poor weather.

ng/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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