A crew member of a South Korean ferry than sank last Wednesday said the crew tried to launch lifeboats, but could not get near because of the tilt of the ship.
News reports said he was a second mate but did not provide his name. He was one of four who have been detained and charged with negligence.
The four stood with heads hanging low as they were questioned outside a court where he was questioned by prosecutors.
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The quake was measured at magnitude 6.1.
Hundreds of services have been cancelled or significantly delayed since schedules were changed on May 20.
Harjit Bariana, 46, was convicted by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court.