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World News
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Reported by: Associated Press
Reported: Thursday, April 17, 2014 11:17 AM EDT
MOKPO, South Korea

A crew member on the ferry that sank of South Korea's southern coast yesterday says an immediate evacuation order wasn't issued because officers on the bridge were still trying to stabilize the vessel after it started to list, amid confusion and chaos.

According to the crew member, the first instructions from the captain were for passengers to put on life jackets and stay put. And he says it wasn't until about 30 minutes later that the captain ordered an evacuation.

The crew member says he's not sure whether the order, given to crew members, was actually relayed to passengers on the public address system.

Eighteen people, including a female crew member, are confirmed dead, but the number is expected to go much higher. There are fears that nearly 280 missing passengers, including many high school students, are dead. Coast Guard officials put the number of survivors at 179, from among the 475 people on board.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard says it's investigating whether the ferry's captain was one of the first people to leave the sinking ship.

A man who was identified by news agencies as the captain has appeared briefly on TV, his face hidden beneath a gray hoodie. He said, "I am really sorry and deeply ashamed."

%@AP Links

153-w-34- --It's a desperate search for the 287 people still missing after a ferry sank off the coast of South Korea. Nine people are known dead. AP correspondent Rita Foley reports. (17 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *153 (04/17/14)££ 00:34

156-a-15-(Lieutenant Arlo Abrahamson, spokesman, U.S. Naval Forces, Korea, in interview)-"guard as requested"-U.S. Navy spokesman Lieutenant Arlo Abrahamson says poor visibility is making the search tough. COURTESY: NBC's 'Today' show ((mandatory on-air credit)) (17 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *156 (04/17/14)££ 00:15 "guard as requested"

GRAPHICSBANK: Rescue helicopters fly over the sinking South Korean passenger ferry "Sewol" off the southern coast of South Korea, on texture with FERRY DISASTER lettering, finished graphic (16 Apr 2014)

APPHOTO XAHN110: Relatives of a passenger aboard a sunken ferry weep as they wait for news on the rescue operation, at a port in Jindo, South Korea, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Strong currents, rain and bad visibility hampered an increasingly anxious search Thursday for more than 280 passengers still missing a day after their ferry flipped onto its side and sank in cold waters off the southern coast of South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) (17 Apr 2014)

<<APPHOTO XAHN110 (04/17/14)££

APPHOTO XAHN809: Lee Joon-seok, the captain of a sunken ferry in the water off the southern coast arrives to be investigated at Mokpo Police Station in Mokpo, South Korea, Thursday, April 17, 2014. An immediate evacuation order was not issued for the ferry that sank Wednesday, likely with scores of people trapped inside, because officers on the bridge were trying to stabilize the vessel after it started to list amid confusion and chaos, a crew member said Thursday. (AP Photo/Yonhap) KOREA OUT (17 Apr 2014)

<<APPHOTO XAHN809 (04/17/14)££


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