• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 30s

South Korea ferry sinks carrying hundreds of students

By CBS/AP 10:08 PM April 15, 2014
SEOUL, South Korea –

Dozens of boats, helicopters and divers scrambled Wednesday to rescue more than 470 people, including 325 high school students on a school trip, after a ferry sank off South Korea’s southern coast, killing at least two and injuring 14, officials said.

The ferry with 476 people aboard was sailing to the southern island of Jeju when it sent a distress call Wednesday morning after it began leaning to one side, according to the Ministry of Security and Public Administration. The government said about 95 percent of the ship was submerged.

Two coast guard officers said that a 27-year-old woman named Park Ji-yeong and another unidentified person had died.

CBS News’ Samuel Songhoon Lee reports that, according to rescue officials speaking to Korean media, 352 people had been saved but 107 passengers were still missing.

A student, Lim Hyung-min, told broadcaster YTN from a gym on a nearby island that he jumped into the ocean wearing a life jacket with other students and then swam to a nearby rescue boat.

“As the ferry was shaking and tilting, we all tripped and bumped into each another,” Lim said, adding that some people were bleeding. Once he jumped, the ocean “was so cold. … I was hurrying, thinking that I wanted to live.”

Local media ran photos showing the partially submerged ferry tilting dramatically as helicopters flew overhead and rescue vessels and a small boat covered with an orange tarp over it floated nearby.

Passenger Kim Seong-mok, speaking from a nearby island after his rescue, told YTN that he was “certain” people were trapped inside the ship as water quickly filled up inside and the severe tilt of the ferry kept them from reaching the exits. Some people yelled at those who couldn’t get out, urging them to break windows.

Kim said that after having breakfast he felt the ferry tilt and then heard it crash into something. He said the ferry operator made an announcement asking that passengers wait and not move from their places. Kim said he didn’t hear any announcement telling passengers to escape.

Another survivor, a passenger identified only as Yoo, told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency that as the ship started to tile, the crew made an announcement telling passengers “stay where you are.”

“I couldn’t because water was coming up on the ship,” Yoo told Yonhap. “So I got a life vest and came outside (to the deck). It would have been better if the announcement instead said ‘get out quickly.’ I don’t know why the announcement didn’t immediately tell people to evacuate.”

The water temperature in the area was about 12 degrees Celsius, cold enough to cause signs of hypothermia after about 90 minutes or 2 hours, according to an emergency official who spoke on condition of anonymity citing department rules.

The students are from a high school in Ansan city 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. The ferry left Incheon port, just west of Seoul, on Tuesday evening, according to the state-run Busan Regional Maritime Affairs & Port Administration.

At the high school, students were sent home and parents gathered for news about the ferry.

Park Ji-hee, a first-year student, said she saw about a dozen parents crying at the school entrance and many cars and taxies gathered at the gate as she left in the morning.

She said some students in her classroom began to cry as they saw the news on their handsets. Teachers tried to soothe them, saying that the students on the ferry would be fine.

A total of 16 helicopters, 34 rescue vessels and navy divers were sent to the area, Lee Gyeong-og, a vice minister for South Korea’s Public Administration and Security Ministry, told a televised news conference. He said President Park Geun-hye ordered a thorough rescue operation to prevent deaths. He said 14 had been injured so far, including one described as serious, and taken to hospitals.

Later Wednesday, 21 navy and 11 coast guard divers began searching the near-sunken ship for survivors, according to emergency officials.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Latest Stories

  • Politics

    Governor renews demand for fiscal fix, unveils plan to combat opioid epidemic

    by Liz Raines on Jan 19, 0:09

    Gov. Bill Walker’s State of the State address Wednesday was similar to his speech last year. It was serious, mainly focused on the budget, but did prompt a few laughs, like when he told lawmakers about an incident from his youth where he had to drive home to Valdez from Delta Junction in reverse. For […]

  • Lifestyle

    YWCA Alaska tackles pay equality between men, women

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 19, 0:02

    In Alaska, women make up 48 percent of the workforce, but only earn an average of $.67 for every dollar men make for the same work. Because of this, Alaska has been ranked 48 out of all 50 state for pay equality. The YWCA Alaska is halfway through its two-year EconEquity Initiative, which aims to […]

  • Politics

    Gov. Walker to attend Trump inauguration

    by Liz Raines on Jan 18, 20:55

    Gov. Bill Walker will be among the governors in attendance at the presidential inauguration on Friday. The Republican-turned-Independent did not make public his support for candidates in the 2016 presidential campaign. Katie Marquette, spokesperson for Walker, said that as an Independent governor, Walker is committed to working with any presidential administration for the good of […]

  • News

    Bethel police: Napaskiak man dies from injuries sustained in snowmobile crash

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 18, 20:13

    A Napaskiak man died after a snowmobile crash on Friday morning, Bethel police report. The Bethel Police Department announced the death of 28-year-old James Joekay Jr. in a Facebook post about the crash. BPD and the local fire department responded to a report about the crash around 8:30 a.m., police wrote. They found Joekay with his snowmobile […]

  • Weather

    Temperatures drop to record levels, school canceled

    by Melissa Frey on Jan 18, 20:11

    As temperatures dropped Wednesday, new records were set in Alaska. Most of the Interior dropped to 50 to 60 below zero, including McGrath, which saw some of the coldest temperatures in five years. The official thermometer dropped to 53 degrees below zero, cold enough to cancel school. The principal of the school said 50 below […]

  • Lifestyle

    Providence hospital first in Alaska to install NICU webcams

    by Lauren Maxwell on Jan 18, 19:40

    Parents who’ve had a baby spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of a hospital often say how difficult it is to be separated from their child, even for a short period of time. That’s one of the reasons Providence Alaska Medical Center has become the first hospital in the state to install live-streaming […]

  • News

    Maintenance crews dig out thousands of hydrants after snowstorm

    by Heather Hintze on Jan 18, 19:08

    Maintenance crews are digging out thousands of fire hydrants after the weekend snowstorm. Alaska Water and Wastewater Utility (AWWU) is responsible for clearing about 7,400 hydrants around the Anchorage Bowl. Journeyman Marshall Kennon said he can shovel out up to 50 hydrants a day. That involves clearing a 6-foot diameter around the hydrant, then checking […]

  • Politics

    Watch Live: Gov. Walker gives 2017 State of the State address

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 18, 18:40

      State of the State Address Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. Watch live coverage of Gov. Bill Walker’s remarks from the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. (Video will begin shortly before 7 p.m.) Web stream provided by 360 North/Gavel Alaska.