Korean Ferry Disaster, seven confirmed dead; 289 still missingUpdated: 2014-04-17 08:32:51 KST
A major rescue operation is continuing off Korea's southwestern coast on this Thursday morning some 24 hours after a Korean passenger ferry carrying 4-hundred-75 people capsized.
SEVEN people have now been confirmed dead, but 2-hundred-89 others remain unaccounted for.
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.
Ji-yeon, hundreds remain missing despite the frantic, now 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 resumed operations this morning, but efforts are being hampered by rain along the coast near Jindo Island and strong sea currents are making efforts to try and locate the missing that much more difficult.
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.
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.
At least seven people have been confirmed dead so far, the number of people rescued stands at 179, with 289 people, mostly teenage students, are still missing.
The entire nation is in a state of shock about this disaster and a series of text messages have emerged that show the confusion and the sheer terror 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.
A majority of the passengers were students 325 students and 14 teachers were on board the ferry.
Local authorities have confirmed that some of the messages from the missing were received at around midnight last night.
These messages said they were alive.
But, we must note, that there is a strong possibility these messages were sent earlier than that and were delievered late due to heavy data.
It's such a horrific situation,and we can't even imagine how the parents are feeling waiting for news about their son or daugther. how are the authorities and the government responding.?
The government is making all-out efforts to save any possible survivors.
Just an hour ago, the country's Security Minister Kang Byung-Kyu says all related government ministries will coordinate their response to boost search and relief efforts for the victims and the victims' families.
President Park Geun-hye and Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin had earlier 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 capsize… there's speculation the ferry might have hit a submerged reef or rocks or it may have made a swift turn for some reason
Although the focus remains on the rescue operations so there are only speculation at this point about what caused the ferry to sink.
The Coast Guard has released provisional* findings.
They say there was an abrupt change in the ship's direction and this could have caused the ship to sink.
Due to this the ferry's cargo may have shifted causing the 180 vehicles and one thousand tons of cargo to shift to one side ultimately leading to the ship to capsizing very quickly.
This is a provisional finding and is currently under investigation to other causes that may have attributed to the incident.
Survivors say they heard a loud bang right before the ferry started to 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 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.
Only identified by surname Lee, the sub-captain and two other crew members that were on-board are currently under investigation by local authorities to see whether they followed safety regulations and guidelines to help passengers reach safety.
I'll bring more updates later today.
Thank you, Ji-yeon. That was our Kim Ji-yeon reporting on the sinking of a Korean ferry off the country's southwestern coast.
Now for a quick quick re-cap of the current situation.
289 people are still missing and the number of confirmed dead has risen in the last couple of hours to seven.
179 people were rescued on Wednesday.
This after the Saewol-ho ferry started to sink sometime around 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, Korea time, some 20 kilometers off the coast of Jindo Island in southwestern Korea.
The confirmed dead include a female ferry employee in her 20s, four high school students, and two others who have not yet been identified.
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