Rescue efforts are in full force following the sinking of a South Korean ferry on Tuesday, and authorities believe that 270 people are trapped inside the vessel, with some possibly still alive. The five-story ferry listed and tipped to its side before sinking off the southern coast of South Korea. There were more than 450 people aboard the overnight ferry, and so far, 28 deaths have been reported, with around 179 people rescued from the waters. In more tragic news, one of the first people rescued, a high school vice principal on board with his students, was found hanging from a tree near the port where loved ones are awaiting news. It marked the latest in a series of dark events. Since Tuesday, there's been no shortage of wind, rain, and fog, and bad weather conditions have made rescue efforts difficult for the more than 500 divers searching the wreckage.
A cause of the accident hasn't been confirmed, and an arrest warrant was issued for the captain and two other crew members. The ferry was traveling on a 14-hour route from Incheon to the tourist island of Jeju, and more than 300 of the passengers were Seoul high school students and teachers on their way to a four-day trip. South Korea's Public Administration and Security Ministry Vice Minister Lee Gyeong-og said those aboard included 30 crew members, 325 high school students, 15 teachers, and 89 nonstudents. A distress call was sent 11 hours into the ferry's trip, and one student said that he jumped into the water: "As the ferry was shaking and tilting, we all tripped and bumped into each other." He said that the water was "so cold," adding, "I was hurrying, thinking that I wanted to live." Some of the students texted their parents as the ship sank, with one girl heartbreakingly writing, "Dad, I can't get out, the ship is slanted too much . . . I can't get out, there are no children in the corridors. I can't get out."
As crews continue to search for survivors, passengers' loved ones have been waiting at the Paeng Mok Harbor in Jindo, huddled together in ponchos as they await news. The large group of friends and family members have gathered in a local Jindo gymnasium, sitting on blankets and offering one another support. One woman, Christine Kim, said she's been sitting out in the rain for days, adding, "How can I sleep when my daughter is in the cold ocean?"