Author Topic: BREAKING: A ferry with about 350 people on board is sinking off the south-west coast of South Korea  (Read 298 times)

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15 April 2014 Last updated at 21:36 ET

South Korea ferry carrying 350 sinking

A ferry with about 350 people on board is sinking off the south-west coast of South Korea, coastguard officials have said.

Most of the passengers are secondary school students on their way from Incheon to the southern resort island of Jeju, officials added.

News agencies said the ferry had sent out a distress signal about 20km (12 miles) off the island of Byungpoong.

Coastguard and naval vessels and helicopters have gone to the scene.

The ferry is reported to be listing at a severe angle.

"The ship is taking in water and sinking," a coastguard spokesman told AFP news agency by phone.

"We have coastguard vessels, commercial ships in the area, as well as helicopters all engaged in the rescue operation," the spokesman said.

One passenger told the YTN news channel: "We heard a big thumping sound and the boat stopped.

"The boat is tilting and we have to hold on to something to stay seated," the passenger said.

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Offline mountaineer

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292 missing, 4 dead in South Korea ferry disaster
Associated Press
1 hour ago

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A ferry carrying 459 people, mostly high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island, sank off South Korea's southern coast on Wednesday, leaving nearly 300 people missing despite a frantic, hours-long rescue by dozens of ships and helicopters. At least four people were confirmed dead and 55 injured.

The high number of people unaccounted for — likely trapped in the ship or floating in the ocean — raised fears that the death toll could rise drastically, making it one of South Korea's biggest ferry disasters since 1993, when 292 people died.

One student, Lim Hyung-min, told broadcaster YTN after being rescued that he and other students jumped into the ocean wearing life jackets and then swam to a nearby rescue boat.

"As the ferry was shaking and tilting, we all tripped and bumped into each another," 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 television stations broadcast live pictures of the ship, Sewol, listing to its side and slowly sinking as passengers jumped out or were winched up by helicopters. At least 87 vessels and 18 aircraft swarmed around the stricken ship. Rescuers clambered over its sides, pulling out passengers wearing orange life jackets. But the ship overturned completely and continued to sink slowly. Within a few hours only its blue-and-white bow stuck out of the water. Very soon, that too disappeared.

Some 160 coast guard and navy divers searched for survivors inside the ship's wreckage a few kilometers (miles) from Byeongpung Island, which is not far from the mainland. The area is about 470 kilometers (290 miles) from Seoul.

Those rescued — wet, stunned and many without shoes — were brought to nearby Jindo Island, where medical teams wrapped them in pink blankets and checked them for injuries before settling them down on the floor of a cavernous gymnasium hall.

The ship had set sail from Incheon, a city in South Korea's northwest and the site of the country's main international airport, on Tuesday night for an overnight, 14-hour journey to the tourist island of Jeju.

Three hours from its destination, the ferry sent a distress call at about 9 a.m. Wednesday after it began listing to one side, according to the Ministry of Security and Public Administration. Officials didn't know what caused it to sink and said the focus was still on rescuing survivors.

Lee Gyeong-og, a vice minister for South Korea's Public Administration and Security Ministry, said 30 crew members, 325 high school students, 15 school teachers and 89 non-student passengers were aboard the ship.

Kang Byung-kyu, a government minister, said two of the dead were a female crew member and a male high school student. He said a third body was also believed to be that of a student. A coast guard officer confirmed a fourth fatality but had no immediate details about it.

Kang said 164 people were rescued, of whom 55 were injured. Officials said 292 people were missing. ...
Rest of article with photos
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Offline olde north church

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A lot countries use ferries, you would think someone would come up with a safer design.
Why?  Well, because I'm a bastard, that's why.

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Doomed teens texted parents from sinking Korean ferry
By Leonard Greene
NY Post
April 16, 2014 | 10:54pm
With water quickly flooding the decks and a mammoth South Korean ferry about to sink, desperate students took to their smartphones Wednesday to text their last goodbyes.

“Mom, I want to say this before it’s too late,” one student wrote. “I love you.”

That student is among the 290 reported still missing.

Another student traded texts with his mom, who had no clue the ferry was in danger.

“Mom, I might not be able to tell you in person. I love you,” the student texted, according to a Korean news agency.

“Me too, son. I love you,” the mother texted back, followed by three heart symbols.

He was among those rescued from the boat, the Sewol.

“Dad, don’t worry. I’ve got a life vest on and we’re huddled together,” a high-school girl wrote.

“I know the rescue is under way, but make your way out if you can,” he replied.

“Dad, I can’t walk out,” she replied. “The corridor is full of kids, and it’s too tilted.”

She is still missing.

The waters were calm off South Korea’s southern coast where the ferry carrying high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island went down just after breakfast.

But on board, there was confusion and chaos, with some passengers being told to plunge into the cold, murky water, and others instructed to stay on board.

“We were told to stay where you are, so we kept staying,” a survivor told YTN. “But later on, the water level came up. So we were beside ourselves. Kids were screaming out of terror, shouting for help.”

Student Lim Hyung-min told reporters that he jumped into the ocean wearing a life jacket with other students and then swam to a rescue boat.

“As the ferry was shaking and tilting, we all tripped and bumped into each another,” said Lim, who jumped in the ocean. “The water was so cold and I wanted to live.”

Lee Gyeong-og, a vice minister for South Korea’s Public Administration and Security Ministry, said 30 crew members, 325 high school students, 15 teachers and 89 nonstudent passengers were aboard the ship.

More than 50 people were reported injured.

Experts said the vessel may have veered off course in dense fog, and most likely struck something in the water.

“So if they hit something, that would have meant they were out of the channel, which is quite easy to do,” Mary Schiavo, former US Department of Transportation inspector general, told CNN.

“What people don’t see when they look at the glassy expanse is underneath, there are intricate and detailed channels maintained. If it got out of the channel, it could have hit something.”

The ferry took only two hours to sink.

“There was a bang and then the ship suddenly tilted over,” said a 57-year-old survivor, identified only by his surname, Yoo.

“Downstairs were restaurants, shops and entertainment rooms, and those who were there are feared to have failed to escape,” he said.

Divers operating in 50-degree water at a depth of at least 90 feet entered the vessel but found no survivors or bodies, according to navy officials.

Jeong Kyung-mi, mother of another 17-year-old from the school, was more fortunate. She received a text message from her son saying he had been rescued with friends and was safe.

“When I heard the news, it felt like my heart had stopped beating.”

Dozens of boats, helicopters and divers were on hand to rescue passengers. About 95 percent of the ship was submerged when the operation began.

Television footage showed rescuers pulling passengers in life vests out of the water as their boats bobbed beside the ferry’s hull. Other passengers were winched to safety by helicopters.

Survivors were taken to nearby Jindo Island.

A massive rescue effort resumed after a delay of several hours. Cold water, swift currents and low visibility were complicating the operation.

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