TODAY   |  April 21, 2014

South Korea president condemns crew of sunken ferry

South Korea’s President Park has sharply criticized the captain and crew for their handling of evacuation of a ferry that capsized and sank last Wednesday, killing at least 58 and leaving about 240 passengers still missing. The captain has been arrested and charged with criminal negligence, and other members of the crew are being questioned. NBC’s Bill Neely reports.

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>>> meantime, we have new developments this morning on the tragic ferry disaster off the south korean coast. divers have now removed dozens of bodies from that ship. and south korea 's president is blasting the captain and crew for committing what she calls murderous acts. nbc's bill neely is in south korea with the latest. bill, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, tamron. an extraordinary statement here from south korea 's president condemning the captain and siding firmly with the families and calling for justice. meanwhile, the number of bodies recovered from the ship is rising all the time. a recovery operation i saw for myself close up today. south korea 's president park didn't hold back in her criticism of the ship's crew.

>> translator: the action of the captain and some of the crew was incomprehensible, she said. it was like murder and cannot be tolerated. the captain was one of the first to get off the ship and to receive medical help. he's been charged with criminal negligence. three further crew members are now being questioned. this was the captain four years ago promoting the same journey. it's safe, he says, as long as you follow the crew's directions. those who did on this ship are still trapped inside it. a massive recovery operation now making slow, grim progress. the ship is directly below us here, one end marked by those cream-colored buoys. there are dozens of divers working in teams inside the passenger area now, trying to bring the bodies through the ship and up on to the surface. the ferry is completely flooded. they say there are no air pockets and they think there are no survivors. one by one, they bring ashore the 16 and 17-year-old students. somebody's daughter. somebody's son. a national trauma . and a national scandal. the president's criticism of the crew piling even more pressure on the authorities to get to the truth of what exactly happened here. back to you, tamron.

>> all right, bill, thank you