Written by Staff Writer
16 Apr, 2014 | 7:42 pm
Almost 300 people remain unaccounted for after a ferry carrying 459 people capsized and sank off South Korea.
The ferry, carrying mainly school students, was travelling from the port of Incheon, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju.
A major rescue effort is under way, involving dozens of ships and helicopters. Those brought to safety were taken to a nearby island.
Four people are now said to have died and dozens of others have been hurt.
South Korean officials had earlier said that 368 people had been plucked to safety, but later said there had been a counting error.
They have now revised down the number rescued to 164.
Images showed the ferry listing at a severe angle and then later almost completely submerged, with only a small part of its hull visible. It sank within two hours of sending a distress signal, reports said.
There are fears this could turn out to be South Korea’s biggest maritime disaster for more than 20 years, says the BBC’s Martin Patience in Seoul.
Several coast guard, military and commercial vessels were involved in the rescue effort, which unfolded rapidly on Wednesday morning.
Pictures from the scene showed rescue teams balanced on the sinking hull pulling teenagers from cabin windows. Some of their classmates jumped into the sea as the ship went down.
Reports suggest some of those rescued were picked up by nearby commercial vessels. The US Navy was also reported to be sending a ship to assist.
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