Cause of ferry accident still under investigation

NEW YORK (CNN) – More than a week after a South Korean ferry capsized in the yellow sea, there are still no answers as to what went wrong.  And as the death toll mounts, furious relatives are blaming the government for not doing enough.

14 crew members have been arrested in connection with the disaster.  At least 180 people are now confirmed dead and 122 others remain missing.

Investigators say they will look into whether modifications to the ship last year, could have altered its balance.

In a matter of hours, the yellow sea swallowed the Sewol ferry, taking far too many lives.

In this swimming pool, Japanese researchers are using a scaled-down model ship, testing theories of what could’ve triggered this disaster.

“A sharp turn makes the ship tilt heavily,” says Akihiko Matsuda, a senior researcher with Japan’s national institute of fisheries engineering.

He says the problem gets worse if there’s too much cargo and not enough ballast water.

Using weights to simulate shipping containers, Matsuda shows how unsecured cargo can shift to one side, with catastrophic consequences.

“The worst case scenario,” he says. “The ship capsizes.”

But one South Korean opposition lawmaker, who represents Jindo, says renovations last year expanded the top floor of the ferry to make room for 117 more passengers making the ferry higher.

South Korean prosecutors could not confirm those details when asked by CNN but we do know they’re investigating the inspection agency that signed off on the work. Investigators want to know if modifications made the ferry more likely to capsize.

Authorities say it did not appear that the ship was overloaded, according to figures provided by the company and the South Korean coast guard. But coast guard officials said investigators won’t know for sure how much cargo the ship was carrying until it is raised.

But, arrested crewmembers spoke of problems with the ferry while defending their actions.

“The ship had a balance problem,” one of the arrested crewmembers says.

“There could have been a mistake while making a turn,” he says. “Or there could have been a steering wheel problem.”

All are key questions facing investigators, as we get a new look inside the ferry.

This video shows the very same hallways divers are now searching and surveillance video from the day of the disaster shows students boarding the Sewol.

Unaware that, in a matter of hours, the ferry would be underwater, and most of their classmates would be missing or dead.

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