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South Korea ferry captain charged with manslaughter

Sewol captain Lee Joon-seok was among the first to be rescued when the ferry sank

he captain of the sunken South Korean ferry has been charged with manslaughter, reports say.

Lee Joon-seok, 68, is accused of leaving the ship as it was sinking while telling passengers to stay put, reports Yonhap news agency.

He was among the first to be rescued by coast guards at the scene.

The Sewol ferry disaster on 16 April killed 281 passengers, most of whom were high school students. Another 23 are still missing.

Besides Mr Lee, three crew members - the chief engineer, the chief mate and the second mate - are also being charged with manslaughter. If convicted, they could face life imprisonment.

"The [four people charged] escaped before the passengers, leading to grave casualties," prosecutor Ahn Sang-don told journalists.

Prosecutors have indicted another 11 crew members for negligence.

Only 172 passengers survived the sinking of the ferry, including 22 of the 29 crew members.