2 Dead, More Than 293 Missing As Ship Sinks In South Korea...

2 Dead, More Than 293 Missing As Ship Sinks In South Korea (PHOTOS)

By CNN on April 16, 2014
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File Photo: South Korean rescue helicopters fly over a South Korean passenger ship, trying to rescue passengers from the ship in water off the southern coast in South Korea, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (Photo Credit: AP/Yonhap)

Rescue boats and helicopters scrambled to pluck passengers, most of them high school students, from a ferry as it slowly sank off the southwest coast of South Korea early Wednesday.

Of the 459 people on board, 164 have been rescued, the security ministry said. Many jumped from the listing ship to the freezing waters below.

At least two people — a woman and a student — were confirmed dead. Another 293 remain unaccounted for, the ministry said.

A South Korean ship with over 400 people on board sank off the country's southwestern coast Wednesday. (Photo: CNN)
A South Korean ship with over 400 people on board sank off the country’s southwestern coast Wednesday. (Photo: CNN)
By afternoon, the ship was virtually submerged. At least two people are dead, with hundreds rescued and many unaccounted for. (Photo: CNN)
By afternoon, the ship was virtually submerged. At least two people are dead, with hundreds rescued and many unaccounted for. (Photo: CNN)

The rescue operation was still underway Wednesday evening, hours after the ferry first sent out distress signal.

Authorities could not immediately say what caused the ship to sink. The weather at the time of the incident in the area was clear.

‘I wanted to live’

The ferry, Sewol, was carrying 325 students; 15 teachers; 30 crew members; and 89 other passengers.

The school group left from the port city of Incheon, just west of Seoul, for a four-day trip to the resort island of Jeju.

Around 9 a.m. local time, the ferry sent out its first distress call. It had begun to list.

A rescued student, Lim Hyung Min, told CNN affiliate YTN that he heard a loud bump. The ferry began to sink after that. Everyone was ordered to don life jackets and jump, he said.

Helicopters lifted passengers off of the stricken vessel. (Photo: CNN)
Helicopters lifted passengers off of the stricken vessel. (Photo: CNN)
Rescue boats scrambled to pluck passengers from the ferry as it sank into freezing water.(Photo: CNN)
Rescue boats scrambled to pluck passengers from the ferry as it sank into freezing water.(Photo: CNN)

Lim said he jumped into the sea before swimming to a rescue vessel.

“I had to swim a bit to get to the boat to be rescued,” he said. “The water was so cold and I wanted to live.”

A desperate dash

Parents search for their children's names among a list of survivors rescued at Danwon High School in Ansan, South Korea. (Photo: CNN)
Parents search for their children’s names among a list of survivors rescued at Danwon High School in Ansan, South Korea. (Photo: CNN)
Rescued passengers are escorted by officials on their arrival at a port in Jindo, South Korea. (Photo: CNN)
Rescued passengers are escorted by officials on their arrival at a port in Jindo, South Korea. (Photo: CNN)
One rescued passenger told reporters he heard a loud bump, which was quickly followed by the ship beginning to sink. (Photo: CNN)
One rescued passenger told reporters he heard a loud bump, which was quickly followed by the ship beginning to sink. (Photo: CNN)

As rescue crews dashed desperately to rescue passengers, the ferry slowly tilted on its side.

With the clock ticking, the 6,800-ton ferry sank. Only its white and blue hull remained above water.

Local media, including CNN affiliate YTN, reported that all students aboard the ship had been rescued. The South Korean Coast Guard hasn’t confirmed those accounts.

The rescue operation includes the U.S. Navy ship USS Bonhomme Richard, which was responding to the scene. It dispatched helicopters to the area, the Navy said.

Authorities could not immediately say what caused the ship to sink. The weather at the time of the incident in the area was clear. (Photo: CNN)
Authorities could not immediately say what caused the ship to sink. The weather at the time of the incident in the area was clear. (Photo: CNN)
Around 320 passengers were students who were traveling with several teachers to the resort island of Jeju. (Photo: CNN)
Around 320 passengers were students who were traveling with several teachers to the resort island of Jeju. (Photo: CNN)
As the ship listed badly, authorities ordered many passengers to jump into the water. (Photo: CNN)
As the ship listed badly, authorities ordered many passengers to jump into the water. (Photo: CNN)

Dive teams have been going in and out of the submerged ship looking for bodies. But low visibility has made their task difficult.

Passenger Kim Seung Mok said that, despite his efforts and those of others, he couldn’t get to several passengers on one of the decks.

“I stayed till the last to rescue people at the hall,” Kim told YTN. “But the water was coming in so fast (that) some didn’t make it out.”

South Korea's president ordered all available vessels, along with special operations divers, to contribute to the rescue effort. (Photo: CNN)
South Korea’s president ordered all available vessels, along with special operations divers, to contribute to the rescue effort. (Photo: CNN)

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