I’ll assume most of you have been on some type of ferry boat in your lifetimes. I used to ride one to a local amusement park in my youth, and have hated boats ever since. I was always afraid it was going to sink. The worst scenario I always feared has happened 20km off the coast of South Korea to a ferry carrying 459 people. Via CNN:
Military dive teams worked the dark, cold waters of the Yellow Sea on Wednesday night in a desperate effort to find nearly 300 people who remained missing after the ferry they were taking to a South Korean island resort sank with breathtaking speed.
Officials said four people were known dead and at least 164 had been rescued after the ferry Sewol swiftly listed and then capsized off the southwest coast of South Korea.
Nearly 300 others are missing, authorities said, but the exact number of passengers aboard the ferry was unclear amid the confusion of the rescue effort.
The bulk of those aboard were students and teachers from Seoul’s Ansan Danwon High School heading to a four-day trip to Jeju, a resort island considered the Hawaii of Korea. More than 300 students and more than a dozen teachers from the school were on board, according to officials.
Hundreds of high school kids on the ferry and their teachers? When it comes to occupants on a sinking ship, this is absolute worst case.
The ship sank within two hours of its first distress call, which came just before 9 a.m., the semiofficial Yonhap News Agency reported. It’s not known what caused the incident.
Helicopters, military vessels and fishing boats swarmed to the scene to help rescue passengers.
Water temperatures, swift currents and low visibility appeared to be complicating the massive rescue operation, which involved dozens of South Korean military divers, sailors, marines and police officers.
The U.S. Navy ship USS Bonhomme Richard, on routine patrol in the area, dispatched its helicopters to aid in the rescue and was headed to the scene, the U.S. Navy said.
Divers from the South Korean navy searched three of the ship’s compartments but found no survivors or bodies, Yonhap reported. Another dive team was expected to continue the search shortly, the news agency said.
A mix of optimism and dread. When it comes to a boat sinking quickly, and the time it takes for rescuers to scramble to the scene with tough conditions, it doesn’t matter what year we live in. Only so much can be done in certain situations. Have a look at some pictures of the rescue efforts and dramatic scenes of the boat sinking:
Stay tuned for updates as they come in as this is still a developing story.