April 18, 4 p.m.: Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Press Release
Jeju-bound Sewol ferry sinking latest news
6,825-ton Sewol ferry left Incheon for Jeju at around 10 p.m. on April 15
Distress call: April 16, 8: 58 a.m.
Location: South Jeolla Province, Jodo-myeon, 1.7 miles southwest of Gwanmaedo (85 k.m. from Jeju)
Cause: Flooding of the vessel. Ultimate cause as yet unknown.
Status of passengers
179 rescued, 28 dead, 268 missing
Total Sewol passengers
A total of 32 Jeju residents were aboard the Sewol. 28 have been rescued (seven Jeju citizens and 21 unregistered residents). 23 of these are now back on the island while another five are receiving treatment in hospitals near the scene. Four Jeju residents remain missing, including three adults and a child.
The Jeju vessels Samda and Yeongju are assisting in the rescue effort. The director of Fisheries and Fire Safety Division director are assisting as are eight additional personnel.
200 boxes of gamgyul and 11.5 tons of Samdasoo water have been sent for survivors.
A task force has been set up to assist relatives wanting to check on the rescue effort for the missing.
Province action plan
- Continue with constant support for the Coast Guard and authorities in the rescue effort with a focus on reaching the remaining Jeju residents
- As new information is released families and connected parties will be immediately informed
April 18, 7 a.m.: Deaths rise to 25 with 271 still missing. Sea cranes arrive at the scene to lift the vessel. Bodies begin to float out of vessel with changing tide. Experts say likelihood of finding survivors now "remote."
April 17, 11 p.m.: Yonhap News is reporting that excessive weight was the cause of the Sewol sinking at such speed, captain deemed in violation of maritime law. 20 deaths are now confirmed, with 276 missing.
April 17, 10 p.m.: As of 10 p.m. on Thursday night, Yonhap News reports 10 people have been confirmed dead after the Wednesday sinking of the Sewol ferry off the South Jeolla Coast. 179 people have been saved from the vessel while 286 are still missing, presumed dead.
The boat left Incheon at around 8:30 p.m., delayed for more than two hours due to heavy fog. It was due in to its destination, Jeju Island, at around 11 a.m. on April 16. It had 475 passengers and 24 crew aboard when it sank 3 k.m. off the southwest coast of Gwanmaedo island, Jodo-myeon, Jindo-gun, South Jeolla Province.
325 of the passengers were students aged 16 and 17 from Danwon High School, Ansan City, Gyeonggi Province, part of a school trip to to Jeju Island. 14 teachers were also aboard. ?? of the students are still missing.
Yonhap News reports that the 6,825-ton Sewol of Cheonghaejin Shipping Co. was built in 1994 in Japan and has a 921 capacity. It can carry 130 cars, 60 trucks and 200 shipping containers. It is thought 150 vehicles were loaded for the 13.5 hour, 425 k.m. trip to Jeju.
A distress signal was received by Mokpo maritime police at 8:58 a.m. on Wednesday morning. The ship began to list and eventually sank in about 2 hours and 20 minutes in 30 meters of water.
Coast guards told Yonhap News that passengers heard a “big thumping sound” before the vessel began to list. While there have been suggestions that the sound heard was that of the vessel hitting a submerged rock, it is possible it was caused by shifting cargo from a sharp turn.
Koh Myung-seok, a senior Coast Guard official, said the ferry took a slightly different path from the route recommended by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, although stressed that this may not have caused the crash. Government officials have revealed that the ferry slowed down before making a turn at 8:48 a.m., indicating it may have been avoiding an obstacle. Yonhap reports the official as saying, "Before it changed its direction, the ship had been moving along at a normal speed. It's hard to tell what exactly happened."
The rescue effort
The rescue mission began at 11 a.m. on Wednesday and enlisted the support of army, navy, police and fire, with the USS Bonhomme Richard also aiding rescuers. Captain Joey Tynch told the BBC on Thursday, "We found ourselves in challenging weather conditions today - very low cloud ceilings and reduced visibility and rain, and we're working a search area around the site in close coordination with the South Korean on-scene commander."
Yonhap reported that military divers searched in strong winds as there were high hopes that survivors were trapped inside. Despite more than 10 efforts to enter the vessel, poor underwater visibility and strong currents meant the mission had to be abandoned at 1 p.m. on Thursday.
“Strong currents and murky water pose tremendous obstacles," said Kang Byung-kyu, minister for security and public administration.
Kang said 169 boats and 29 aircraft were involved in the effort, with two salvage cranes arriving on Friday. A military control tower was established at the 14,000-ton flat-deck amphibious assault ship Dokdo in support of the rescue under the commandership of Navy chief Adm. Hwang Ki-chul.
Hwang was in control of 26 naval ships and three aircraft, as well as 92 divers from Ship Salvage Unit, 274 Navy SEALs and special forces for the rescue mission. Six CN-235 transport aircraft arrived on Wednesday night to drop 600 rounds of flares to help the nighttime search.
The Sewol’s crew has come in for criticism as reports suggest many aboard were told to remain calm and inside the ship as it listed. Several of the passengers who jumped overboard were able to reach nearby rescue boats. One student survivor said that passengers stayed still for 30 to 40 minutes after being told to stay put by crew. "Then everything tilted over and everyone started screaming and scrambling to get out," he said.
More people could have been saved had they jumped overboard immediately, survivors say. There are also reports that the ship's captain was one of the first to leave the vessel. The 69-year-old captain, Lee Joon-seok, is being questioned by the Coast Guard. He said this to reporters: "I am sorry for passengers and family members of the missing. I don’t know what to say.”
April 17, 5 p.m.: Nine deaths are now confirmed including four 17-year-old students, a 25-year-old teacher from the high school and a 22-year-old female crew member. The identities of the other three are not yet know. 287 are still mossing, with 179 rescued, 101 of whom are in hospital. 550 people are now working on the rescue mission.
On the morning of April 16, 3 k.m. off the southwest coast of Gwanmaedo island, Jodo-myeon, Jindo-gun, South Jeolla Province, the Sewol sank with 475 aboard.
The Central Disaster Safety Task Force reported at 1 a.m., April 17 that six deaths were confirmed, with 290 missing, with a 179-strong rescue mission underway. 325 of the passengers were students from Danwon High School, Ansan City, Gyeonggi Province. 14 teachers were also aboard. 175 people have been rescued, with 75 of these students.
The coast guard continued the search into the night using flares for lighting. They remain hopeful that there are survivors within the vessel, but the search is increasingly desperate due to the cold waters.
The 6,825-ton Sewol of Cheonghaejin Shipping Co. was built in 1994 and has a 921 capacity. It can carry 180 vehicles and 152 shipping containers. It is thought 150 vehicles were loaded for the 13.5 hour trip to Jeju.
The ship sent out a distress signal at 8:58 a.m. stating it was flooding. Survivors have reported hearing a loud clang before the vessel began to list.
It took only 2 hours and 20 minutes for the vessel to sink completely. There had been heavy fog in Incheon, leading to a delayed departure, but the weather was reportedly clear by the time it reached the southwest coast.
Rescuers have spoken of the difficulty of the diving mission to save the passengers due to the seas having some of the strongest currents in Korea.
Update 10 p.m.: Four deaths reported, with 174 saved and 284 still missing.
Update 6 p.m.: Briefing confirms three deaths, 164 saved and 295 still missing.
Update 4 p.m.: Latest reports from Yonhap news say two dead, not three as earlier reported. 290 are reported missing as of 4 p.m.
A ferry sank off the South Jeolla Coast on the morning of Wednesday, April 16. The vessel, with 452 passengers and 24 crew ran aground near Jindo island en route from Incheon to Jeju. By 2 p.m. three people had been confirmed dead with scores injured.
325 aboard the 6,325-ton 920-capacity "Sewol" were high school students on a school trip with 14 teachers. Amid fears the death toll could rise substantially, Yonhap News reported that 107 remained missing at 1:38 p.m.
Park Jiyoung, a 27-year-old female crew member, was confirmed found dead aboard the vessel although the cause of death is not yet known. One other death is reported, although details have not been released.
The Hankyoreh reports that 14 people have been taken to hospitals in Jindo, Mokpo and Haenam, with one reported as seriously injured. 60 survivors with more minor injuries are being treated at a Jindo gymnasium while 89 are reported as in good condition on the shore.
A distress signal was received by Mokpo maritime police at 8:58 a.m. from near Byeongpoong island, in South Jeolla Province. A coast guard who had spoken to survivors told Yonhap News that passengers heard a “big thumping sound” and the boat is thought to have run aground and floated for two-and-a-half hours before listing and sinking at around 11 a.m. The vessel is now completely underwater.
The Korean authorities have dispatched police, fire services, coast guard and navy services to the scene. Military officials said that 22 vessels and a Lynx helicopter had been dispatched by the Navy, along with 21 Navy Seal commandos.
The Air Force also dispatched a C-130 military transport aircraft carrying life boats, and the Army sent about 10 helicopters. Seven special maritime police were also on the scene and local private vessels were also contributing to the rescue mission.
Lee Gyeong-ok of the Ministry of Security and Public Administration said that 179 people were involved in the official rescue operation, but due to the number of local private fishing vessels involved, the exact number was unknown.
The BBC’s Lucy Williamson is reporting that angry parents have gathered outside the students' school after the ship was reportedly allowed to leave in bad weather.
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