It is an unimaginable loss for the parents whose children were out on a pleasure trip. Hopefully more people will be rescued, however chances are much reduced after a few hours (water temp is only 12C).
ferry carrying 462 people, mostly high school students on an overnight
trip to a tourist island, sank off South Korea’s southern coast on
Wednesday, leaving more than 280 people missing despite a frantic,
hours-long rescue by dozens of ships and helicopters. At least four
people were confirmed dead and 55 injured.
The high number of
people unaccounted for — likely trapped in the ship or floating in the
ocean — raised fears that the death toll could rise drastically, making
it one of South Korea’s biggest ferry disasters since 1993, when 292
Local television stations broadcast live
pictures of the ship, Sewol, listing to its side and slowly sinking as
passengers jumped out or were winched up by helicopters. At least 87
vessels and 18 aircraft swarmed around the stricken ship. Rescuers
clambered over its sides, pulling out passengers wearing orange life
jackets. But the ship overturned completely and continued to sink
slowly. Within a few hours only its blue-and-white bow stuck out of the
The ship had
set off from Incheon, a city in South Korea’s northwest and the site of
the country’s main international airport, on Tuesday night for an
overnight, 14-hour journey to the tourist island of Jeju.
hours from its destination, the ferry sent a distress call at about 9am
on Wednesday after it began listing to one side, according to the
ministry of security and public administration. Officials didn’t know
what caused it to sink and said the focus was still on rescuing
Lee Gyeong-og, a vice-minister for South Korea’s
Public Administration and Security Ministry, said 30 crew members, 325
high school students, 15 school teachers and 89 non-student passengers
were aboard the ship.
The water temperature in the area was
about 12 degrees Celsius (54 Fahrenheit), cold enough to cause signs of
hypothermia after about few hours of exposure, according to an emergency
official who spoke on condition of anonymity citing department rules.
Lee, the vice minister, said the ocean is 37-metre (121 feet) deep in
The students — about half of them boys and half girls— are from Danwon
High School in Ansan city, which is near Seoul, and were on their way to
Jeju island for a four-day trip, according to a relief team set up by
Gyeonggi province, which governs the city.