2 dead as South Korea ferry with 476 passengers sinks

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April 16, 2014

More than 100 people were still unaccounted on Wednesday several hours after a ferry carrying 476, most of them high school students, sank in cold waters off South Korea’s southern coast, killing at least two and injuring 14, officials said.

April 16, 2014

More than 100 people were still unaccounted on Wednesday several hours after a ferry carrying 476, most of them high school students, sank in cold waters off South Korea’s southern coast, killing at least two and injuring 14, officials said.

Helicopters try to rescue passengers from a sinking ferry off the southern coast in South Korea on Wednesday.

There were fears of a big jump in the number of deaths, as dozens of boats, helicopters and divers scrambled to rescue passengers, who had been on the ferry travelling to the southern island of Jeju. One rescued passenger said he believed that many people had been trapped inside the ferry when it sank.

The ferry sent a distress call at about 9 am (local time) on Wednesday after it began leaning to one side, according to the Ministry of Security and Public Administration. The government said about 95 per cent of the ferry, whose passengers included 325 high school students on a school trip to the popular tourist island, was submerged.

Two Coastguard officers said that a 27-year-old woman named Park Ji-yeong and another unidentified person had died. The government said five hours after the distress call that 368 of the 476 passengers had been rescued, but officials gave no further details, including what caused the ferry to sink or the conditions of the other passengers.

Photos showed wet students wrapped in blankets as emergency workers tended to them.

A student, Lim Hyung-min, told broadcaster YTN from a gym on a nearby island that he jumped into the ocean wearing a life jacket with other students and then swam to a nearby rescue boat.

“As the ship was shaking and tilting, we all tripped and bumped into each another,” Mr. Lim said, adding that some people were bleeding. Once he jumped, the ocean “was so cold. … I was hurrying, thinking that I wanted to live.”

Local media ran photos showing the partially submerged ship tilting dramatically as helicopters flew overhead and rescue vessels and a small boat covered with an orange tarp over it floated nearby.

Passenger Kim Seong-mok, speaking from a nearby island after his rescue, told YTN that he was “certain” that many people were trapped inside the ship as water quickly filled up inside and the severe tilt of the ferry kept them from reaching the exits. Some people yelled at those who couldn’t get out, urging them to break windows.

The students are from a high school in Ansan city near Seoul and were on their way to Jeju island for a four-day trip, according to a relief team set up by Gyeonggi Province, which governs the city. The ferry left Incheon port, just west of Seoul, on Tuesday evening, according to Busan Regional Maritime Affairs & Port Administration.

At the high school, students were sent home and parents gathered for news about the ferry.

A total of 16 helicopters, 34 rescue vessels and Navy divers were sent to the area, Lee Gyeong-Og, a Vice Minister for South Korea’s Public Administration and Security Ministry, told a televised news conference. He said 14 had been injured so far, including one described as serious, and taken to hospitals.

Later on Wednesday, 21 Navy and 11 Coastguard divers began searching the near-sunken ship for survivors, according to emergency officials.Courtesy:


Courtesy: AP