April 22nd, 2014
12:47 PM ET

Crew Members Say They Couldn't Reach Lifeboats as Ferry Tipped Over

They slipped.

That's the explanation a crew member from the sunken ferry Sewol gave Tuesday for being unable to reach life rafts as the ship rolled over and began to sink.

Crew members made attempts to get to the lifeboats, the crew member said. "But we slipped so we could not do that."

The man was among four crew members who briefly answered reporters' questions outside a courtroom Tuesday following their arrest the day before on charges related to the disaster. The men appeared with their heads bowed and faces covered, making it unclear which of them was speaking.

They are among nine crew members facing charges, including the captain and two more who were arrested Tuesday.

So far, 121 people are confirmed dead and 181 remain missing nearly a week after the ferry sank, according to the South Korean Coast Guard.

The failure to deploy the lifeboats is one of a series of problems that beset those on board the sinking vessel last Wednesday.

A transcript of a radio conversation released by authorities over the weekend suggested that passengers on the ship couldn't reach lifeboats to escape because the ship tilted so quickly that it left many of them unable to move.

But the ship's captain and some crew members have come under heavy criticism, notably for the captain's decision to tell passengers to stay where they were.

In addition to the captain, two first helmsmen, one second helmsman, a third mate, the chief engineer, a technician and the two crew members arrested Tuesday face charges.

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