290 missing as ferry with 477 passengers sinks off south coast
Posted : 2014-04-16 09:40
Updated : 2014-04-17 14:30
Rescue team is searching for passengers in the ferry "SEWOL," which set off Incheon yesterday on its course to Jeju Island, and ran aground this morning in the sea off Jindo, South Jeolla Province.
Around 290 people are feared missing as rescue team is searching for passengers in the ferry "SEWOL," which ran aground this morning in the sea off Jindo, South Jeolla Province. The ferry set off Incheon Tuesday on its course to Jeju Island,
The passenger ship was carrying 477 people, mostly high school students, sank off in southern coast, leaving three people dead.
The government announced 180 were rescued as of 2:30 p.m., reversing earlier announcement of 368.
Among those confirmed dead were Park Ji-young, 22, a female crew member, and Jung Cha-woong, a second year student in Danwon High School in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province.
Twenty seven passengers, including seven critically injured, were separately sent to Hankook General Hospital, Mokpo Hankook Hospital and Haenam General Hospital.
Minister of Security and Public Administration Kang Byung-kyu, Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Lee Ju-young and Chief of the National Emergency Management Agency Nam Sang-ho arrived at the scene to survey the situation.
The passengers, including 325 students on a school trip, were aboard the 6,325-ton vessel when it sent out a distress signal at around 8:58 a.m. in waters 20 kilometers off the island of Byeongpoong, said the Coast Guard and a government official.
The accident prompted a massive rescue operation involving Coast Guard and military vessels and helicopters.
The ship completely capsized in about two hours, the Coast Guard said, adding that most of the students had been rescued from the ferry.
The cause of the accident and the condition of those rescued were not immediately known. Witnesses told YTN that they believe the ship hit rocks due to invisibility from thick mist.
"There was a banging noise then the boat suddenly started sinking," a rescued passenger was quoted by the Coast Guard as saying.
The ferry set off from the western port of Incheon on Tuesday and was to arrive at the southern resort island of Jeju later on Wednesday, Lee said.
The Navy dispatched 22 vessels and a Lynx helicopter for rescue and search operation, while preparing to send Navy special forces and an underwater demolition team to rescue passengers who jumped into the water wearing life jackets after the captain told them to abandon the ship.
The Air Force dispatched a C-130 military transport aircraft carrying life boats, while the Army sent about 10 helicopters and the emergency rescue teams, military officials said.
President Park Geun-hye ordered maximum efforts to rescue all of the passengers, stressing that all available Navy, Coast Guard and other vessels nearby should be mobilized to make sure that not a single life is lost.