UPDATE: 2:13 p.m. Thursday local time: Ship Captain Apologizes, Under Investigation
UPDATE: 10:40 a.m. Thursday local time: 8 Confirmed Dead, 288 Still Missing
BUSAN, South Korea — A ferry carrying 459 passengers has sunk off South Korea’s southern coast, leaving at least four people dead and nearly 300 missing.
The 6,800 ton ship, the Sewol, sank near Byeongpung Island, located west of Muan International Airport. The ship sent a distress signal at 8:58 this morning.
The disaster management headquarters of the Ministry of Security and Public Administration said in addition to the four deaths, 164 people have been rescued and 291 are missing.
Earlier around 2 p.m., the ministry said 368 of the passengers had been rescued, but later admitted the number was wrong.
The accident prompted a massive rescue operation involving about 40 Coast Guard and military vessels and a dozen military aircraft and helicopters. About 200 Navy special forces and divers were also mobilized to search the sunken ship, the defense ministry said
Military divers will enter the sunken ferry starting at 5 p.m. in efforts to find the missing passengers, a ministry official said. The ship sank at a depth of 30 meters, with the ocean currents flowing at a speed of 8 km per hour.
Additional forces and ships are on the way to the area, the Navy said. A U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship equipped with two helicopters, which was on its routine patrol mission in the western sea, was also moving to the scene to help with the rescue operation, U.S. Forces Korea said.
The government confirmed four people dead, including a 27-year-old female employee of the ship operator and two high school students. The head of a Korean engineers association said based on survivors’ testimony, the ship could have hit a reef. The coast guard said the passengers included 324 high school students and their teachers on a school trip to Jeju Island.
Source: Busan eFM News
Image: Fox News