6 Dead, 290 Missing After Ferry Carrying South Korean Students Sinks

At least six people are dead and 292 remain missing after a ferry carrying mostly high school students capsized off the southern coast of South Korea on Wednesday. Dozens of rescue ships and aircrafts continue to search for survivors, though officials say the death toll is likely to rise drastically.

The ship set sail from the northwest Korean city of Incheon Tuesday evening for Jeju, a popular tourist destination about 12 hours away. Wednesday morning, at about 9 am local time, the ferry sent a distress signal after it began leaning to one side. Officials still haven't determined what caused the accident.

Local news crews and the South Korean coast guard captured video of the rescue operation as the boat continued to sink.

Of the ship's 459 passengers, 325 were students and 15 were teachers from Danwon High School. The students, most 16 or 17 years old, were on their way to Jeju for a four-day school trip.

From the Associated Press:

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."

Some passengers said the crew told them to "stay where you are," instead of ordering an evacuation.

"I couldn't [stay in place] because water was coming up on the ship," a passenger named Yoo told Yonhap News. "So I got a life vest and came outside (to the deck). It would have been better if the announcement instead said 'get out quickly.'"

Officials say 164 people were rescued, 55 of whom were injured in the accident.

UPDATE 5:20 pm: The death toll now stands at 6. The number of missing has been updated to 290.

UPDATE 10:12 am: Officials say the number of missing now stands 284.

[Image via Getty]