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Passenger ship sinking off Korea's southwestern coast; at least two dead

Updated: 2014-04-16 16:49:16 KST
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We continue our coverage on the sinking of passenger ferry off the southwestern coast of Korea
with some 470 people on board, 320 of which were students traveling with several teachers to the resort island of Jeju.
The Coast Guard has confirmed at least two deaths so far.
Let's turn to our Connie Kim for the latest.
Connie, do we have any updates on the numbers? They've changed throughout the day.


Yes, Daniel you mentioned the two deaths.
The South Korean Navy has confirmed that a 22-year-old woman and a male high school student have been killed.
The number of people rescued stands at 164, according to the Ministry of Security and Public Administration.
That stands in stark contrast to what the ministry said earlier in the day, when it put the number of those rescued from the ship at 368.
The ministry said in a press briefing that the confusion came from some passengers that had been pulled safely from the vessel being counted twice.
It also confirmed that two-hundred-ninty-three people are still uncaccounted for.



Now finding them safely is a race against time.
The Saewol-ho ferry started to sink this morning hours ago, some 20 kilometers off the coast of Jindo Island in southwestern Korea.
To search for survivors, the Coast Guard sent a rescue team of 40 people into the sunken vessel about an hour ago.
However, rescue operations are expected to be difficult as the tidal currents are very fast.

So, Connie, time is of the essence obviously. How large in scale is the rescue operation?


More than 60 ships including twenty naval vessels, helicopters and aircraft are actively searching for survivors, along with around 160 scuba divers.
President Park Geun-hye and Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin have ordered that all Navy, Coast Guard and nearby vessels help with the efforts.
Also, the U.S. ship LHD that was on routine patrol has joined the rescue operations as well.
It dispatched helicopters to the area, but has returned to the ship waiting for further tasking.

Any reports on the cause of the accident?

That's still not clear right now, but officials say there's a high possibility that the passenger ship ran into a rock due to foggy weather.
At the site of the crash, waters are reportedly 37-meters deep with lots of rocks in the area.
Also, the Coast Guard says the ship was being driven by a substitute captain, as its original one was on vacation.
Officials from the Coast Guard also say there is a high possibility that passengers may have gotten trapped when the power was cut off after the ship tilted.
The people who were rescued say they heard a loud bang before the ship started showing signs of trouble.

Let's listen to some of the survivors of this ferry accident.


"The waves were calm when the ferry set off. Then all of a sudden, the ship felt like it flipped on its side violently. People were cornered and they couldn't get out of their cabins, because they couldn't open the doors. The ship tilted by 60 degrees, and slowly inclined to 90 degrees, before capsizing,.. and that was when I was rescued."


"I screamed for 30 to 40 minutes in the ferry. Things were falling and people were sliding down the ship."

We'll continue to monitor the situation and report on any new developments, while of course wishing for the best.

Connie Kim, thank you for that report.. we'll check back with Connie later in this newscast.


Reporter : connie1223@arirang.co.kr

Comments

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ciararad (USA) 2014-04-16    

This is so sad. I'm praying for everyone who was involved. I hope that they find the rest of the passengers soon.

earlyseven7 (Philippines) 2014-04-16    

my prayers and sympathy for their safety.

fatboyme (USA) 2014-04-16    

This makes me so sad.

behnam92 (Iran, Islamic Republic of) 2014-04-16    

Oh my Allah