Vice Principal Commits Suicide After South Korea Ferry Tragedy

After a ferry carrying hundreds of high school students capsized this week, killing at least 28 and leaving almost 300 missing, the school’s vice principal was found dead of an apparent suicide.

Kang Min-kyu, 52, accompanied 325 Danwon High School students on a holiday ferry trip on Wednesday. When the ship capsized, Kang was one of 179 rescued from the vessel. On Friday, he was found hanging by his belt from a pine tree in Jindo, an island where survivors are being housed and where relatives of missing students continue to wait and mourn.

The Sewol had been carrying 475 people – 28 have been officially declared dead, and hopes are dwindling of finding 268 missing people alive.

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The Associated Press reported that a suicide note was found, indicating that Kang felt responsible for leading the trip and guilty for surviving over many of his students. However, Reuters reported that Kang did not leave a suicide note.

Meanwhile, authorities have been investigating the cause of the disaster, which has become one of the worst in South Korea’s history. Officials said that a sharp turn – ordered by a 26-year-old third mate with a year of steering experience – may have caused the accident.

A transcript of a ship-to-shore radio exchange showed that evacuation was delayed for half an hour after a transportation official told the ship it might have to evacuate. Officials suggested a swifter evacuation could have prevented some deaths.

According to CNN, the captain of the Sewol is in police custody. He has been charged with violations relating to his abandonment of the ship – he allegedly evacuated the vessel before his passengers could escape.