South Korea Ferry Disaster: Death Toll Reaches 100, Fears Many Among Dead are Youngsters (PHOTOS)

By Esther Tanquintic-Misa
April 22, 2014 4:30 PM EST

South Korea Ferry Disaster: Death Toll Reaches 100, Fears Many Among Dead are Youngsters (PHOTOS)

The death toll from the ferry sinking disaster in South Korea has reached 100. Another 198 remain missing. People feared that many among the dead would be youngsters.

Many of the missing are presumed trapped in the vessel which sank on April 16.

Reports have surfaced that the first call of distress the sinking ferry made was made by a boy, not from the ship's captain. The call was directed to a fire station.

"Save us! We're on a ship and I think it's sinking," Yonhap news agency quoted the boy who made the call, with the family name of Choi. The call was received 8.52 in the morning when the boat capsized.

An unidentified fire officer told MBC TV that the boy's voice was shaking and sounded urgent. Reuters reported that single call was then forwarded to the coastguard two minutes later. It was followed by 20 calls made by children to the fire brigade.

Police have detained seven crew members, including ship captain Lee Joon-seok, as families of the ill-fated passengers called for justice over their failure to have all passengers evacuated as the ship listed.

Crew members of the South Korean passenger ferry Sewol said they repeatedly asked officers on the bridge if they should already give the order to abandon ship. The bridge did not respond, a crew member said.

Lee, arrested on negligence charges, was also charged with undertaking an "excessive change of course without slowing down."

Witnesses saw Lee and several other crew members leaving the ferry as it started sinking, while many of the passengers remain encased inside the vessel. President Park Geun-hye blasted their deeds as tantamount to an "act of murder."

Read: South Korea Ferry Sinking: Miscalculation Turns Supposed Successful Rescue Operation into Disaster, 6 Dead, Hundreds Still Missing, Mostly Students, Texts of Farewell (PHOTOS)

Quoting transcripts of the conversation between the crew and sea traffic control, the Jindo Vessel Traffic Services Centre, public broadcaster KBS reported that the passengers were repeatedly told to stay put.

"Stay where you are. Don't move. If you move, it will be more dangerous."

The crew on the third deck, for 30 minutes straight, kept asking the bridge if they should already issue the order to abandon ship, KBS said.

"At the time, we could not confirm what the situation was on the bridge," KBS quoted a crew member. "We kept trying to find out but ... since there was no instruction coming from the bridge, the crew on the third floor followed the instructions on the manual and kept making 'stay where you are' announcements. At least three times."

At the time the ferry began listing, it was being steered by a third mate. It was found however that this officer had never navigated the area where the accident occurred.

Read: BREAKING NEWS: 50 Ships, Helicopters Race Against Time to Rescue 470 Onboard Sinking South Korean Ferry (PHOTOS)

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