Survivors describe escape from sinking ferry


Associated Press

Posted on April 16, 2014 at 11:01 AM

MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — Survivors of a ferry sinking off the coast of South Korea are describing how they jumped into the frigid water wearing life jackets and then swam to a nearby rescue boat.

But there may have been many others on board who weren't able to escape. Nearly 300 people are still missing after the ferry, carrying 462 people, sank while on an overnight trip to a tourist island. Most of those on board were high school students.

At least four people are confirmed dead and 55 injured.

Local TV stations showed pictures of the ship listing to its side and slowly sinking as passengers jumped out or were lifted to safety by helicopters. Rescuers were on the sides of the ship, pulling out passengers. But the ship overturned completely and continued to sink slowly. Eventually, only its bow was sticking out of the water.

Some 160 coast guard and navy divers have been searching for possible survivors. A Coast Guard spokesman says 16 divers approached the ferry and tried to get inside, but couldn't because the current was too strong. The spokesman adds that the water is muddy, and visibility is poor.

An emergency official says the water temperature in the area is about 54 degrees.

%@AP Links

150-r-34-(Sound of rescuers on board boat engaged in rescue operations, from video supplied by South Korean network YTN)--Sound of rescuers pulling survivors of the boat accident from the waters below, during a rescue operation by ships and helicopters. ((actual cut length is :27 seconds)) (16 Apr 2014)

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127-c-05-(Hyung-jin Kim, AP correspondent)-"sink very slowly"-AP correspondent Hyung-jin Kim reports there was time for some of the people on board to jump out or be winched up by helicopters. ((note accent)) (16 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *127 (04/16/14)££ 00:05 "sink very slowly"

GRAPHICSBANK: SOUTH KOREA FERRY DISASTER lettering, on texture, finished graphic (16 Apr 2014)

APPHOTO NY201: Rescue helicopters fly over a sinking South Korean passenger ferry that was carrying more than 450 passengers, mostly high school students, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, off South Korea's southern coast. Hundreds of people are missing despite a frantic, hours-long rescue by dozens of ships and helicopters. At least four people were confirmed dead and 55 injured. (AP Photo/Yonhap) KOREA OUT (16 Apr 2014)

<<APPHOTO NY201 (04/16/14)££