Rescue teams in South Korea worked under darkness to recover victims from a capsized ferry that was carrying a reported 462 people on board. So far, four of the passengers have been confirmed dead with at least 174 rescued according to recent developments.
The ferry capsized in the cold waters of the Yellow Sea early Wednesday, and was carrying a group of mostly high school students heading from the port of Incheon to the southern vacation island of Jeju. As reported by BBC News Asia, passengers on the ferry said they heard a loud sound which suggests the ship hit something and was compromised.
News agencies are reporting that survivors were told to stay on board the ship although it was tipping over and sinking at a rapid rate. The nearly seven-ton Sewol vessel sent out a distress signal at 9:00 a.m. and sank nearly two hours after. Images and video of the capsized ship highlight the enormity of the accident and the scope of the rescue efforts. Although there is not an accurate count available, authorities say dozens of passengers were injured and many more are still reported missing.
Vice minister of security and public administration Lee Gyeong-Og said that 178 divers, including South Korean Navy SEALS, are part of the rescue teams. A United States amphibious assault ship from the 7th Fleet is also assisting in the rescue.
Ferry accidents in the busy Yellow Sea waterways are rare. However, in 1993 a ferry capsized in the region leaving 300 dead.
Visit the gallery to see pictures of the South Korean Sewol ferry capsizing and the rescue efforts on the following pages.