S Korea ferry disaster: Students send heartrending texts

S Korea ferry disaster: Students send heartrending texts

Exchange of urgent messages sent from students on the sinking ferry off the coast of Jindo, South Jeolla Province, are breaking the hearts of many in South Korea.

"Mom, I just want to tell you that I love you, just in case I won't have a chance to say this again," said one 17-year-old student in the crippled vessel in a text to his mother. Fortunately, the student was among the 77 Dansan High School students who were later rescued.

The mother replied: "Me too, my son. I love you," without knowing about the fast sinking ferry.

In another exchange, a female student identified by her last name Shin texted her father at 10:04am, trying to calm him down.

"Dad, don't worry. I have my life vest on, and we're all here together," she wrote.

Her father replied: "I know that the rescue is underway but shouldn't you be waiting outside the rail? Try to get out if you can."

Shin wrote back: "I can't. The corridor is full of kids and it'll be even more dangerous to move because the ship is tilted."

Shin is among the 287 people still missing.

In what is seen as one of the worst maritime accidents in decades, students sent out heartbreaking messages to their loved ones, knowing that it might be the last time to say "I love you".

One student by the messenger nickname "Woongki" texted his older brother, "The ship ran into something and it's not moving. They say the Coast Guard just arrived."

His brother calmly replied: "The rescue team will come to you soon. There's no need to rush around or be confused. Hold yourself together and do what they tell you to do. Text me again when you get data connection."

At around 9:20am, one of the 14 teachers from the high school sent a group text message to her students, "I'll see you kids outside. I love you all."

The multi-story ferry carrying 475 people, mostly Dansan High School students, tipped over at 8:58am on Wednesday, leaving almost 300 people missing out at sea despite overnight rescue efforts.

"It took less than 10 seconds to flip over to the side and there was huge chaos with vending machines falling over," a survivor from the ship named Jang Eun-bok told reporters.

Students passed along life vests and were told not to move, which many experts say may have worsened the disaster.

The number of people unaccounted for is raising concerns that the death toll could rise to nearly 290, making it one of the worst maritime accidents in South Korea after the 1993 ferry disaster when 292 people died.

Rescuers said they will start to inject pump oxygen into the sunken ship at around 12:30pm on Thursday.

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