A major rescue operation is continuing off Korea's southwestern coast on this Thursday morning after a ferry carrying 4-hundred-75 people capsized.
Six people have been confirmed dead,
but nearly 3-hundred others remain unaccounted for… some 20 hours after the ship started sinking.
Most on board the Sewol ferry were teenagers, high school students heading to Korea's southern Jeju Island for a field trip.
We are going to connect live to our Kim Ji-yeon at the news center for the latest on this tragedy.
Ji-yeon, hundreds remain missing despite the frantic, almost day-long search-and-rescue operation
It really is an agonizing wait for the families of the missing who are sick with worry.
Search and rescue teams have been working through the night, but the lack of light and strong sea currents have made it almost impossible for divers to get under the water and try and locate the missing.
Rescuers had to constantly use their flares to get some light over the pitch darkness covering the ocean.
The part of the sea in which the ship sank is reported to be at least 30 meters deep and filled with boulders and rocks.
The search operation was stopped for several hours last night but resumed at one a.m., Korea time, that's around five hours ago.
Local media outlets say the water temperature is low and experts have said even two hours of exposure to the cold waters can be life-threatening.
The entire nation is in a state of shock about this disaster and a series of text messages have emerged that appear to show the confusion and fear those on board were feeling
Yes, these messages are drawing the nation's hearts toward the victims and the victim's families.
Some of texts described the state of the ferry saying "The ferry looks like it's really going to capsize".
And there were others that wanted to reach out to their families and say what could be their final words it reads "Mom, just in case I can't see you again, I just wanted to say that I love you" were one of the texts from one of the many high school students that were on-board heading to their destinations for their field trip.
Majority of the passengers were the students 325 students and 14 teachers were on board the ferry.
So very sad, can't even imagine how the parents are feeling waiting for news about their son or daughther. what has the government's response to this disaster been?
The government is making all-out efforts to save any possible survivors.
President Park Geun-hye and Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin ordered that all Navy, Coast Guard and nearby vessels help with the efforts.
Dozens of ships, aircraft, along with hundreds of specialized forces and professional divers are actively searching for survivors.
The U.S. Navy also sent a ship with helicopters on board to join the operation.
Mystery surrounds what caused the ferry to capsize… there's speculation it might have hit a submerged reef or rocks
The focus remains on the rescue operations so there are only speculation at this point about what caused the ferry to sink.
Survivors say they heard a loud bang right before the ferry started go down.
And since there are clusters of big rocks and boulders at the site where the ferry sunk, it is presumed the ferry hit a boulder and started to tilt.
Many were trapped inside the ferry and couldn't get free as some say that they were told to stay put rather than escaping the ferry which is not comprehensible for many.
There are also some finger pointing to the company in charge of the ferry saying that there were only one captain in charge of the ferry since the main captain was on a leave normally there are two people -- one captain and a sub-captain.
And on that day, the sub-captain, who has eight years of experience of steering ships, was on charge of the ferry.
Ji-yeon, give us a re-cap of what happened and the number of people rescued and still missing
The Saewol-ho ferry started to sink sometime around 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, some 20 kilometers off the coast of Jindo Island in southwestern Korea.
At least six people have been confirmed dead so far, including a ferry employee Park Ji-young in her 20s, and four high school students, and one who have not yet been identified.
So far, the number of people rescued stands at 174, with the remaining 290 or so people still missing.
The ship was completely submerged under water just 2-hours and 20 minutes after it started to tilt.
I'll come back with more updates later today.
Thank you, Ji-yeon. Let's hope there is some good news in the coming hours. That was our Kim Ji-yeon reporting on the sinking of a Korean ferry off the country's southwestern coast. Around 3-hundred people, including many high school students, are still unaccounted for.