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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Iola Register

292 missing, 4 dead in South Korean ferry disaster SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A ferry carrying 459 people, mostly high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island, sank off South Korea’s southern coast today, leaving nearly 300 people missing despite a frantic, hours-long rescue by dozens of ships and helicopters. At least four people were confirmed dead and 55 injured. The high number of people unaccounted for — likely trapped in the ship or floating in the ocean — raised fears that the death toll could rise drastically, making it one of South Korea’s biggest ferry disasters since 1993, when 292 people died. One student, Lim Hyung-min, told broadcaster YTN after being rescued that he and other students jumped into the

ocean wearing life jackets 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 television stations broadcast live pictures of the ship, Sewol, listing to its side and slowly sinking as passengers jumped out or were winched up by helicopters. At least 87 vessels and 18 aircraft swarmed around the stricken ship. Rescuers clambered over its sides, pulling out passengers wearing orange life jackets. But the ship overturned completely and continued to sink slowly. Within a few

hours only its blue-andwhite bow stuck out of the water. Very soon, that too disappeared. Some 160 coast guard and navy divers searched for survivors inside the ship’s wreckage a few miles from Byeongpung Island, which is not far from the mainland. The

area is about 290 miles from Seoul. Those rescued — wet, stunned and many without shoes — were brought to nearby Jindo Island, where medical teams wrapped them in pink blankets and checked them for injuries before settling them down on

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land of Jeju. Three hours from its destination, the ferry sent a distress call at about 9 a.m. after it began listing to one side. Officials didn’t know what caused it to sink and said the focus was still on rescuing survivors.

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