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Arrest warrant sought for captain of South Korea ferry that capsized

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Prosecutors in South Korea have asked a court to issue an arrest warrant for the captain and two other crew members of the ferry that sank on Wednesday, officials say, reports BBC.

It was earlier revealed that a junior officer - and not the captain - was at the helm of the ferry when it capsized.

The captain of a South Korean ferry wasn't at the helm of his vessel when it capsized, an official said Friday, raising another question about the man who families of the hundreds still missing have blamed most directly and emotionally for his part in the disaster, reports CNN.

Rather than Capt. Lee Joon Suk, the Sewol ferry's third mate was at the wheel when it began listing and ultimately flipped - not long after a loudspeaker announcement told passengers to stay put and before only a few lifeboats deployed.

"It is not clear where (the captain) was when the accident occurred, although it is clear that he was not in the steering room before the actual accident happened," state prosecutor Jae-Eok Park said Friday.

Lee was one of at least 179 people rescued soon after Wednesday's sinking. A bigger number - 271 as of Friday morning, according to the South Korean Coast Guard - are still considered missing, with 25 confirmed dead.

How this all came to be remains murky two days later, much like the waters surrounding the capsized ship.

Family members of passengers massing on a dock in the Jindo, South Korea, harbor -- about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from where the five-story ship sank -- expressed increasing disgust, frustration and anger over everything from the ferry crew's response to the search-and-rescue effort.

The latter continued on Friday under dreary conditions similar to those that have plagued the area for days.

No one was rescued Thursday, during which time U.S. Navy Capt. Heidi Agle said two Navy helicopters equipped with special radars could only fly a few hours due to the poor weather. Divers in the water battled against strong currents, frigid water temperatures in the 50s (10 to 15 Celsius) and difficulty seeing more than a few feet ahead.

"It's extremely difficult," Agle, who said the Navy helicopters were from the USS Bonhomme Richard nearby, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "There are heavy currents in the area, so the vessel itself is not stable in the water. So you are, by default, putting divers at risk... There are many, many things that are working against them."

It's a different kind of struggle for those in Jindo, many of them the parents of more than 300 Seoul high school students who'd been heading to a four-day island holiday.

Wearing ponchos to fend off the rain, some of them could be heard crying in the face of the grim situation. Others demanded answers from Lee, chanting, "Captain, come out."

He didn't talk directly to them, but ferry Capt. Lee Joon Suk did emerge Thursday at a South Korean Coast Guard office. His head and face covered, he broke down in tears when reporters asked him if he had anything to say.

Lee managed only, "I am sorry, I am at a loss for words."

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Reporter: Sz. Cs.
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