Prosecutor: Mate steering at time of South Korean ferry accident was navigating those waters for 1st time

Lee Joon-seok, center, the captain of the sunken ferry Sewol in the water off the southern coast, leaves a court which issued his arrest warrant in Mokpo, south of Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, April 19, 2014. The investigation into South Korea's ferry disaster focused on the sharp turn it took just
Photo: AP Photo/Yonhap

A prosecutor says that the third mate steering a South Korean ferry at the time of a major accident was navigating those waters for the first time.

Senior prosecutor Yang Jung-jin told reporters that the 25-year-old mate was steering the ship as it passed through an area with lots of islands clustered close together and fast currents.

The ferry sank Wednesday. More than 270 people are still missing.

Yang says that another mate usually took controls through the area. But because heavy fog caused a departure delay, the third mate was steering the ship through the waters. Yang says investigators have not confirmed whether the ship was going faster than usual.

Police have arrested the ferry captain on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need.

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