Sinking Ferry Leads to Hundreds of Missing Passengers
In South Korea, tragedy struck on early Wednesday when a ferry carrying more than 450 passengers capsized in sight of land. According to the latest reports, more than 300 of the passengers aboard the ferry had been teenagers and teachers from a local school who had been on a field trip to Jeju island on that day.
Currently, coastguard and navy divers are still searching for the nearly 300 passengers who are still missing. Approximately 179 people have been rescued so far with 6 confirmed dead. The incident has been referred to as the deadliest maritime accident to occur in South Korea in the past two decades.
Per reports, the ferry sent out a distress signal on early Wednesday morning, which began the the rescue operation. Unfortunately, the area of the capsizing is home to some of the nation's strongest tides, which prevented the rescue divers from entering the waters for several hours after the distress signal was sent out.
Parents and loved ones have gathered along the shoreline to watch the search efforts and wait for news. Many have grown frustrated with the lack of information—with some parents even going so far as to hire their own boats to proceed with the searches. There has been substantial blame on the government, as well as rescue officials, for not making enough of an effort and not moving quickly enough.
As one parent said, "Media is saying the rescue op is still going on. It's all a lie."
Cause of Ferry Accident Remains a Mystery
Currently, it is unclear why the 20-year-old ferry sunk, but it is believed that the capsizing started when the ferry began to list heavily on its side. According to passengers who were aboard the vessel, there was an extremely loud noise before the ferry began to list. There is no current clear reason why the vessel had listed so heavily since the water had been calm and the area was clear of rocks, reefs, and other obstacles. Per one government ship crew member, it is likely that the accident was largely caused by a vessel malfunction.