Video of students' final hours filled with chilling pleas

SINGAPORE - A mobile phone video obtained by Korean news website Newstapa captured students in their final hours, as they struggled on board the South Korean ferry that sank on April 16.

More than two weeks after the 6,200-tonne Sewol capsized and sank, 213 people have been confirmed dead but 89 remain unaccounted for.

The New York Times' account of the video contains chilling pleas for help, confusion, attempts to cling to hope and final messages to loved ones.

"Are we going to die?"

"Are we becoming a Titanic?"

The video also contains voices of the crew on the ship's intercom, directing students and other passengers to remain in place and not abandon the sinking ship.

The warnings to not evacuate are repeated again and again as the ferry continues to descend into the sea off South Korea's south-west coast.

Presenting the video, Newstapa's broacaster Choi Seung Ho said: "This is by far the most heartbreaking scene I have seen in my 27-year broadcasting career."

As one of the longer videos comes to an end, a student says, "I am scared."

Other videos show students celebrating as helicopters approach the listing ship.

"This looks like the end," a boy shouts into a smartphone held by his classmate Park Su Hyeon.

Another boy cuts in: "Mum, Dad, I love you."

[[{"fid":"168831","view_mode":"default","type":"media","attributes":{"height":259,"width":410,"border":"0","style":"line-height: 1.538em;","class":"media-element file-default"},"link_text":null}]]


Among the text messages, photos and video clips that have been produced by passengers of the ill-fated ferry, Su Hyeon's 15-minute footage bears the most dramatic witness to the panic and fear.

"The ship is leaning!" one passenger says.

"Help me!" another says.

As students feel the ship shudder and wonder whether it is sinking, a crew member comes onto the intercom, urging them to stay put.

"Nonsense," one student shouts. Another says: "I want to get off. I mean it."

Meanwhile, the recovery of a body some distance from the submerged vessel has raised concerns that many of the missing passengers may never be found, AFP reported.

On Wednesday, a fishing boat pulled a body from the sea about 2km away from the main recovery site off the southern island of Jindo.

"This made us even more aware of the importance of preventing the loss of victims' bodies," said Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries spokesman Park Seung Ki.

Recovery workers put netting around the site days ago, but there are concerns that powerful currents in the area may have pulled some bodies into the open sea.

The relatives of those still missing insist that all bodies are recovered before efforts to raise the sunken ferry begin.

But the dive teams have yet to access 22 of the ship's 66 passenger cabins in their grim search.

1 Divers will connect the chains to the ship to prepare it for hoisting.

Ship is tilted with part of it touching the ocean floor.

Air is pumped into the Sewol to create air pockets to aid in lifting the ship.

2 Cranes will turn over the capsized ship into an upright position.

Two Samsung Heavy Industries cranes are capable of lifting 3,300 and 7,300 tonnes.

One Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering crane is capable of lifting 3,300 tonnes.

One Marine Environment Management CorpGallery. crane is capable of lifting 1,800 tonnes

3 Three 32-tonne lift bags will be used to buoy the ship as the cranes hoist it. Water is drained as the ship is being lifted. The whole process is expected to take several months. 4 The ship is moved to land and the search operation resumes.

Weight Vessel: 6,200 tonnes Cargo: 1,800 tonnes Total weight is estimated to be over 9,100 tonnes, including water inside the ship

This article was published on May 2 in The New Paper.

Get The New Paper for more stories.