Junior officer at helm of sunken South Korean ferry

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Anger and frustration has been directed at South Korean officials as the hunt for survivors of a capsized ferrry continues.

Hundreds of passengers, many of them schoolchildren, are feared dead after the ship mysteriously went down on Wednesday between the mainland port of Incheon and the resort island of Jeju.

So far, 28 of the 475 people on board have been officially declared dead with 179 others rescued.

Searchers are pumping air into the dining hall of the vessel, where many of the passengers are expected to be, but divers are yet to enter the hull. Some experts say it is now unlikely that any of the missing will be found alive.

The accident happened in calm, shallow waters and investigators have focused on the role of the crew as the ferry appeared to have a clean safety record.

Witnesses have said that the captain and some of the crew left the ship while others instructed passengers to remain in place as it began to sink.

It is believed a junior office was at the helm which is normal for a regular trip in familiar waters.

Some parents of the missing schoolchildren have blamed the ship’s captain for the tragedy after he and shipping company officials made emotional apologies for the loss of life

“If the captain had acted properly, many children would surely still be alive,” said one woman.

The captain, Lee Joon-seok, 69, faces criminal investigation, which is standard procedure in South Korea.

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