A South Korean passenger ferry sunk into the freezing waters off the nation’s southwest coast on Wednesday, according to CNN.
The ferry Sewol sent out a distress signal at 9 A.M. local time. Four hundred and seventy four people were aboard when the ship began to sink. One survivor reported hearing “a loud bump” though the cause of the wreck is currently unknown. The vessel is now completely submerged.
So far, 368 passengers have been saved.
Sadly, South Korean authorities report that two people have been confirmed dead.
The remaining 104 passengers are still missing.
Rescue vessels took to the water immediately to rescue passengers who had jumped from the sinking ship.
Three hundred and twenty of the ship’s passengers were high school students and teachers taking a trip to the island of Jeju. Fortunately, many of the students were able to jump from the ship and swim to rescue vessels. South Korean media reports that all of the students have been saved, but this has not been confirmed by authorities yet.
One student, Lim Hyung Min, detailed the harrowing experience.
“The water was so cold and I wanted to live. I think most of the students are now rescued. I have 20 other students with me and many of us suffered from hypothermia but now we are OK because we got blankets.”
Since the freezing water Lim Hyung Min swam through was cold enough to cause hypothermia, time was of the essence in the rescue effort. South Korean President Park Geun-hye took swift action, ordering all available ships to assist in the rescue efforts.
Passenger Kim Seung Mok told YTN, a South Korean affiliate to CNN, about his efforts to save fellow passengers from the disaster.
“I stayed till the last to rescue people at the hall. But the water was coming in so fast [that] some didn’t make it out.”
Twitter is currently swamped with updates on the ship’s status and support for the passengers and their families.
Please pray for the 350 students that are currently on a ship from Incheon to Jeju. The boat is sinking & the coastguards are working hard:(
— Brian Joo (@Brianjoomuzik) April 16, 2014
— 냥 (@helloitzmeys) April 16, 2014
Prayers going up for the 100+ passengers that are unaccounted for on the sinking cruise ship off of the Korean coast
— Jonathan W. Solomon (@Ambitious_14) April 16, 2014
Image via Youtube