Ferry carrying hundreds sinks off South Korean coast, nearly 300 still missing (update)

Nearly 300 people, most of them students, are missing after a multi-story ferry carrying almost 500 people sank off South Korea's southwestern coast.

    2014/04/16

NSFW    Nearly 300 people, most of them students, are missing after a multi-story ferry carrying almost 500 people sank off South Korea's southwestern coast, according to a Reuters report.

The South Korean ferry ran into trouble as it was traveling from Incheon to the southern resort island of Jeju early Wednesday morning.

A South Korean newspaper reported thick fog may have obscured visibility causing the ferry to run aground on a reef at around 8:30 a.m.

Passengers described hearing a loud impact before the ferry began to list heavily on its side.

"It was fine. Then the ship went 'boom' and there was a noise of cargo falling," said passenger Cha Eun-ok, according to the report.

Many jumped from the ship into freezing waters as the vessel began to sink.

After receiving a distress signal, navy and civilian vessels rushed to the scene.

It took roughly two hours for the ferry to roll on its side, completely turn over and capsize.

Witnesses say many people likely remain trapped inside the ferry.

The Sewol ship has a capacity of 921 people. More than 450 passengers were on board, including 324 high school students on a school trip.

At least four deaths have been reported, but a final casualty count is not yet available.
There are conflicting reports as to the exact cause of the accident as despite reports of thick fog, Korea’s meteorological agency says skies were clear Wednesday morning.

"We will try to determine the cause of the accident after rescue operations are over," said Lee Gyeong-og, South Korea's vice-minister of security and public administration, according to the BBC.
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