South Korea: 295 Missing After Ferry Sinks
Almost 300 people are missing after a ferry sank off the coast of South Korea. Two people have been confirmed dead so far, including a teenager.
The South Korean Coastguard says 164 people have been rescued and 295 remain unaccounted for.
The ferry, with 459 people and 150 vehicles on board, was sailing to the southern island of Jeju when it sent a distress call at 9am local time (1am UK time) on Wednesday morning as it began listing to one side.
Soon afterwards it had completely capsized, with only the front part of its hull visible above the water.
A South Korean government spokesman said 95% of the ferry is now submerged.
There is no indication yet what caused the ship to list and roll onto its side, although one witness told television channel YTN there had been a "loud impact and noise" before it began sinking.
The 325 students on board are from a high school in Ansan, near Seoul, and were on their way to the island for a four-day trip, according to a relief team set up by officials in Gyeonggi province.
One student, Lim Hyung-min, told YTN he jumped into the ocean wearing a life jacket with other students and then swam to a rescue boat.
"As the ferry was shaking and tilting, we all tripped and bumped into each another," he said, adding some people were bleeding.
He said the ocean was "so cold", adding: "I was hurrying, thinking that I wanted to live."
The ship left Incheon port, west of Seoul, on Tuesday evening, according to the state-run Busan Regional Maritime Affairs and Port Administration.
It ran into difficulties about 60 miles (100km) south of the Korean peninsula.
A total of 18 helicopters and 34 rescue boats have been sent to the area.
The US Navy has dispatched its amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard to aid the rescue.
Passenger Kim Seong-mok told YTN he was "certain" people were trapped inside as water quickly rushed into the vessel, and the severe tilt of the ferry stopped them getting out.
Some people yelled at those who could not get out, urging them to break windows, he said.
Mr Kim said he felt the ferry tilt and heard it crash into something before the ferry operator made an announcement asking passengers to wait and not move.
One of the dead was found inside the sinking ferry, while the other died soon after arriving at the Mokpo Hankook hospital on the mainland.
*Image credits: Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons
*Original story: Orange News/Sky News via Google News
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