Transcripts, released by the coast guard, show the ferry’s crew panicking during their last communications with controllers at Jindo Vessel Traffic Services Centre.
Excerpt, recorded 29 minutes after the Sewol’s first distress call:
Controller: “Please go out and let the passengers wear life jackets and put on more clothing.”
Crew member: “If this ferry evacuates passengers, will you be able to rescue them?”
Controller: “At least make them wear life rings and make them escape.”
Crew member: “If this ferry evacuates passengers, will they be rescued right away?”
Controller: “Don’t let them go bare. At least make them wear life rings and make them escape… We don’t know the situation very well. The captain should make the final decision and decide whether you’re going to evacuate passengers or not.”
Crew member: “I’m not talking about that. I asked, if they evacuate now, can they be rescued right away?”
Only a few seconds before the final communication did it become clear to controllers that an evacuation of the ferry had been ordered.