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S. Korea ferry with 450 passengers sinks
Publish Date: Apr 16, 2014
S. Korea ferry with 450 passengers sinks
South Korea has despatched coastguard vessels and helicopters to rescue around 450 passengers - mostly high school students - on a ferry sinking off the southern coast (AFP Photo/Jung Yeon-Je)
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Seoul - South Korean coastguard vessels and helicopters pulled passengers off a stricken ferry as it sank Wednesday off the southern coast with around 450 passengers on board -- mostly high school students.

There were no immediate reports of any casualties, but Lee Gyeong-Og, the vice minister of security and public administration, told reporters in Seoul that he could only confirm the rescue of 110 passengers so far.

The South Korean Coast Guard rescue some of the passengers and crew aboard a ferry sinking some 20kilometres off the island of Byungpoong in Jindo on April 16, 2014, in this South Korea Coast Guard image (AFP Photo/South Korea Coast Guard)

Photos broadcast on television showed the ferry tilted over 45 degrees on the port side with helicopters flying overhead, and then fully capsized with only its stern visible.

The South Korean Coast Guard rescue some of the passengers from a ferry sinking some 20 kilometres off the island of Byungpoong in Jindo on April 16, 2014, in this South Korea Coast Guard image (AFP Photo/)

The ferry, bound for the southern resort island of Jeju, send out a distress signal at 9:00 am (0000 GMT) with passenger testimony suggesting it may have run aground.

"We heard a big thumping sound and the boat stopped," one passenger told the YTN news channel by telephone.

"The boat is tilting and we have to hold on to something to stay seated," the passenger said.

Map showing the area off the south coast of South Korea where a rescue operation is underway for some 450 passengers on a sinking ferry (AFP Photo/)

The 6,825-tonne ferry, which had sailed out of the western port of Incheon on Tuesday evening, ran into trouble some 20 kilometres (13 miles) off the island of Byungpoong.

It was carrying a total of 476 passengers and crew, of which 325 were high school students on a trip to Jeju island -- known as "South Korea's Hawaii" and one of the country's most popular tourist destinations.

Helicopters rush to aid 477 passengers and crew aboard this sinking South Korean ferry some 20 kilometres off the island of Byungpoong in Jindo, as shown in this South Korea Coast Guard photo from April 16, 2014 (AFP Photo/)

Og said a total of 34 naval, coastguard and civilian vessels were involved in the rescue operation, along with 18 helicopters.

Og said President Park Geun-Hye in a personal message "ordered us to make efforts not to leave a single casualty".

The ferry manifest included 150 cars.

The South Korean Coast Guard rescue some of the passengers from a ferry sinking some 20 kilometres off the island of Byungpoong in Jindo on April 16, 2014, in this South Korea Coast Guard image (AFP Photo/)

AFP

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