News / Asia

Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks

Maritime police search for missing passengers in front of the South Korean ferry that sank near Jindo, South Korea, April 16, 2014.
Maritime police search for missing passengers in front of the South Korean ferry that sank near Jindo, South Korea, April 16, 2014.
Daniel Schearf
South Korean divers resumed searching Thursday for 290 people - many of them teenagers - missing nearly 24 hours.

At least six people are dead and 290 missing after a ferry boat sank off South Korea's southern coast Wednesday. Authorities initially reported most of the passengers were rescued but quickly backtracked and raised casualty figures dramatically as the scale of the tragedy became clear.

The passenger ferry was carrying more than 462 people on board, most of them high school students, when it sent out a distress signal at 9:00 a.m. South Korean officials said.
 
Reports quoted passengers as saying they heard a loud noise before the 6,000-ton vessel began to tilt and then capsize and sink. It was almost completely submerged in just hours.
 
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Scores of Coast Guard, military, and private vessels responded to the disaster to rescue survivors.  They were joined by helicopters and Navy divers to search the area and sunken wreckage.
 
Most of those on board were high school students headed from Incheon to the southern resort island Jeju on a four-day school trip.
 
South Korean authorities initially reported 368 passengers were rescued, including all of the students. But, just minutes later, authorities dropped the estimate dramatically.
 
Kang Byung-kyu is Minister of Security and Public Administration.  He said as part of search and rescue efforts they will send three cranes to lift the sunken ship in the next two days.
 
He said of the number of people who have been found so far, 78 on the list of rescued are students.
 
The students all were from Ansan a town just south of Seoul.
 
Compounding the tragedy, the municipal office of education sent out a text message to parents saying all their children were safe.
 
School authorities said they quickly organized buses for parents to be taken to the scene.
 
The ship, the Sewol, sank at a depth of 30 meters, leading to speculation it may have come aground or hit a rock.
 
South Korean media reports said the ferry's regular captain was on vacation and another captain was at the helm.
 
Lee Jong-in is a representative of Salvage Company Alpha and an expert on maritime safety and rescue.
 
He said the ferry company will investigate the sinking, but the captain could have been careless. He said ultimately the captain of the ship is the one responsible for it.
 
Lee said such incidents are rare in South Korea. The last major sinking was the Navy vessel Cheonan in 2010, which Seoul said was hit by a North Korean torpedo, killing 46 sailors. Pyongyang denies it was responsible.
 
South Korea's President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday visited the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures headquarters. She urged them to do their best to rescue the missing.

VOA Seoul Bureau Producer Youmi KIim Contributed to this report.

 
  • South Korean Coast Guard officers try to rescue missing passengers from a sunken ferry in the water off the southern coast near Jindo, South Korea, April 17, 2014. 
  • Family members of missing children gather at a gymnasium in Jindo, South Korea, April 17, 2014.
  • Relatives of passengers board a South Korean Coast Guard boat to go to the scene of the rescue area, Jindo, South Korea, April 17, 2014. 
  • Mothers of the missing children that were aboard the sunken ferry listen to South Korean President Park Geun-hye speak, Jindo, South Korea, April 17, 2014.
  • A TV cameraman films weeping relatives of the missing passengers from the sunken ferry, Sewol, at a port in Jindo, South Korea, April 17, 2014. 
  • An official on a Coast Guard ship points at a radar display of the area where the ferry sank off the southern coast near Jindo, South Korea, April 17, 2014. 
  • The South Korean ferry "Sewol" is seen sinking in the sea off Jindo, South Korea, April 16, 2014.
  • This image made from video from the South Korean Coast Guard shows a passenger of a ferry sinking off South Korea's southern coast being hoisted onto a Coast Guard helicopter off the southern coast near Jindo, April 16, 2014.
  • This image made from video from the South Korean Coast Guard shows a rescue worker helps people climb onto a side of a ferry sinking off South Korea's southern coast, April 16, 2014.
  • Rescued passengers cry at a gym where rescued passengers gather in Jindo, South Korea, April 16, 2014.
  • The mother of a passenger who was on a sinking ferry reacts as she finds her son's name in the survivors list at a gym where rescued passengers gather in Jindo, South Korea, April 16, 2014.
  • Helicopters fly toward the sinking ferry that was on its way to Jeju island from Incheon, April 16, 2014.
  • People watch a TV news program showing the sinking ferry, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, April 16, 2014.

Survivors were taken to the nearby island of Jindo. Kim Tae-young, a student, said he acted quickly when the ship started to lean.

"I held a handrail and moved toward the right side of the ferry to ride a helicopter as water kept coming in," he said.

Many of the passengers said they were initially told to stay in their seats and not try to escape. Yoo Ho-shil said when he felt the ferry began to list, he knew he had to act.

''No, I could see it. I felt in my bones that I had to escape when I saw water was flooding an aisle next to a cabin," he recalled.

Most of the passengers were high school students headed to Jeju island on a school outing.

The students attend a school in Ansan, near Seoul. Classes were dismissed Wednesday  as anxious parents gathered, waiting for news about their children.

"I can't even describe how I feel now. I was super nervous," said Park Sung-ho, the father of one of the students. "Even specially trained soldiers will have a hard time if they get stranded at sea. Then what a shock it must be to those kids? I'm sure it must have felt devastating. It's even worse for the parents."

South Korean television broadcast images of the ship, as it slowly turned perpendicular to the sea before disappearing beneath the surface.

The 146-meter-long ferry departed late Tuesday from the western port of Incheon. It sank about 20 kilometers off the island of Byungpoong.

The reason for the incident is not clear. Some passengers reported hearing a loud noise before the ferry started sinking.

Heavy fog was reported in the area on Tuesday evening, but it is not known whether this contributed to the sinking.

Some information in this report contributed by Reuters.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: LONG VANTHY from: Cambodia
April 16, 2014 11:04 AM
very very sorry

     

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid