A report says a South Korean ferry captain has apologized for leaving his doomed vessel but said he didn't know his actions would lead to the deaths of more than 300 people.

Capt. Lee Joon-seok and three other crew members aboard the ferry Sewol face homicide charges for allegedly being negligent and failing to protect passengers. The four were among the first group of people to leave when the ship began badly listing.

Yonhap news agency says Lee told a court trial Wednesday he will continue to pray for the souls of the dead people until he dies.

Gwangju District Court officials couldn't immediately confirm Lee's comments.