S Korea's coast guard, fire service offices raided

S Korea's coast guard, fire service offices raided
Journalists ask Lee Joon-seok (C), captain of South Korean ferry "Sewol" which sank at sea off Jindo, questions as Lee walked out of court after an investigation in Mokpo April 19, 2014.

The investigation into the sinking of the ferry Sewol continued to expand Monday, bringing the Korean Coast Guard, emergency services and more financial entities linked to Yoo Byung-eon under scrutiny.

Yoo, former chairman of the defunct Semo Group, is thought to be the de facto owner of Sewol's operator Chonghaejin Marine Co.

On Monday, investigators raided the offices of the Mokpo Coast Guard and Jeonnam Fire Service, whose initial response to the incident has been brought into question.

Although the Coast Guard was in contact with the Danwon High School student who first raised the alarm from about 8:54 a.m. on April 16, a Coast Guard ship was only dispatched at about 8:58 am.

The Coast Guard officer speaking with the student reportedly requested information that the student was unlikely to know such as the coordinates of the Sewol's location.

As for South Jeolla Province's fire service, it is suspected of failing to relay information it received from the student to the Coast Guard. The student's call to the emergency service was received at 8:52 am.

While the investigation brings the Coast Guard, which is itself a part of the investigation team, under examination, Minister of Justice Hwang Kyo-ahn hinted that it could involve other government agencies.

"Regarding the shortcomings in responding to the Sewol accident, all state organisations including the Coast Guard are under examination," Hwang told lawmakers of the parliamentary Legislation and Judiciary Committee on Monday.

Also on Monday, the prosecution examined irregularities in the business practices of Yoo and his family, and raided four more locations.

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