SEOUL - The sole female staff member who died in South Korea's ferry-sinking incident was helping students escape. She became the only member of the staff to perish in the incident, and was apparently the only member of the staff to help passengers before fleeing, according to a report in Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao.
There are now accusations that the captain and staff of the vessel fled the sinking ferry before helping passengers flee.
But rescued students spoke of 22-year-old Park Ji Young's bravery and effort in the face of a sinking ferry.
A rescued student said that the last time he saw Ms Park, she was distributing life vests to students in the food hall. He said: "I asked her why she wasn't wearing a vest herself, and she said that the crew will wear the vests after passengers, and that she will leave the ferry after all passengers have been evacuated."
He added that Ms Park helped students to stay calm, even when the ferry was tilted between 45 and 60 degrees.
He said Ms Park gathered life-vests from different places and passed them out to students trapped in the food hall on the third floor, Wanbao reported.
When students cried, she even pressed her face against theirs and consoled them: "Don't worry, we'll all be rescued."
When the ferry was about to sink, Ms Park shouted to the students to jump into the sea.
Many students were rescued by fishing vessels, but Ms Park was nowhere to be found.
Her body was found at 12 noon yesterday.
Another 49-year-old survivor recalled: "The staff member on the third floor was still yelling at people to let students escape first, even at the last moment."