Ferry sinks with students on board, 293 missing

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Ferry sinks with students on board, 293 missing

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A ferry carrying 459 people, mostly high school students on a school trip to Jeju Island, sank off the southwestern coast after it took in water for two hours, killing at least two people.

Rescuers saved 164 people but 293 people were unaccounted for as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The ferry with 429 passengers and 30 crew on board departed from Incheon Harbor at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Among the passengers were 325 high school students from Ansan, Gyeonggi.

The ferry sent a distress call at 8:58 a.m. Wednesday after it began listing to the side for unknown reasons in waters 20 kilometers off the island of Byeongpung in Jindo County, South Jeolla. That is about 160 kilometers north of Jeju.

The Coast Guard reported that a 27-year-old woman named Park Ji-yeong, who worked for the ferry company, and 11th grader Jung Cha-woong died in the accident.

Around two hours after the ship sent a distress call, it sank completely, according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard earlier Wednesday reported that it rescued almost all of the students and the rest of the passengers and crew but later backtracked, saying a significant number were still missing.

It was reported that some students jumped into the water wearing life vests. It was thought they were the passengers unaccounted for in the afternoon.

The cause of the sinking was not confirmed.

For rescue efforts, the Navy sent 22 vessels and a Lynx helicopter while also dispatching special forces and an underwater demolition team.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]
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