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South Korean Coast Guard officers search for missing passengers aboard sunken ferry Sewol in the waters off the southern coast of South Korea on Apr. 17. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

(Bloomberg) — The captain of the South Korean ferry that sank in April was sentenced to 36 years in prison for not doing enough to save passengers in the country’s worst maritime disaster in more than four decades.

Judge Lim Joung Youb said Captain Lee Joon Seok, 69, could have saved many more lives had he tried to evacuate the passengers before abandoning ship. Lee was acquitted of homicide charges that could have brought a death sentence. Most of the victims were high school students on a class trip, and only 172 of the 476 people on board survived the April 16 sinking.

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