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TODAY   |  April 25, 2014

Investigators suspect S. Korea ferry officials bribed

Frustration is boiling over for relatives of the people missing in the South Korean ferry disaster, amid new questions about whether the boat was safe enough to be in the water. NBC chief global correspondent Bill Neely reports.

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>>> meanwhile, tamron is here with some troubling new developments in that ferry accident in south korea .

>> yes. frustration is boiling over this morning for relatives of people still missing from the sunken south korean ferry. also, new questions today on whether that boat was safe enough to be in the water at all. nbc's bill neely has the latest.

>> reporter: good morning, tamron . investigators here now suspect that life rafts on the sunken ferry may not have worked properly. evidence growing here that the ferry operators broke the rules and risked lives. the ferry sank with passengers trapped and life rafts unused. only two of 46 were launched. investigators have now seized its sister ship and found life rafts and escape chutes were faulty. they raided government offices, suspecting officials were bribed to pass both ships as safe. they suspect the captain lied, that the ship was overloaded with cargo, and that the steering was faulty. do you think this ship was safe to sail?

>> no.

>> reporter: no?

>> no.

>> reporter: it was dangerous?

>> yes, yes, yes.

>> reporter: this marine expert says loose cargo unbalanced the ship. the cargo was too heavy? and it was not secure?

>> right. i think so.

>> reporter: anger is growing. parents of the missing targeting naval officials. why aren't you finding our children more quickly, they asked? at sea, the grim search for bodies grinds on. dozens of divers circling and entering the ship. more than 100 people still trapped inside. the operation here is focused entirely on recovering bodies. it's only when they salvage the ship, raise it up, that they can begin to prove what happened with the cargo and with the steering. but prosecutors are in little doubt that negligence on and off the ship cost hundreds their lives. as further evidence of that, it appears the ferry company didn't spend too much money training its crew. last year it spent exactly $521. it didn't buy a lot of safety. tamron ?