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Ferry sinks off coast

April 16 6:54 a.m. update: A ferry carrying 459 people, mostly high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island, sank off South Korea's southern coast on Wednesday, leaving nearly 300 people missing despite a frantic, hours-long rescue by dozens of ships and helicopters. At least four people were confirmed dead and 55 injured.


April 15 8:40 p.m.: A South Korean passenger ship carrying more than 470 people, including many high school students, is sinking off the country's southern coast Wednesday after sending a distress call, officials said. There are no immediate reports of causalities.

The ferry with 476 people including 325 high school students was sailing to the southern island of Jeju when it sent a distress call Wednesday morning as it began leaning to one side, according to Ministry of Security and Public Administration.

A total of 18 helicopters and 34 rescue boats have been sent to the area and 110 people have been rescued so far, ministry officials said.

Photos from south Korean media show the ship on its side as rescue vessels are nearby.

Park Hye-rang, a local coast guard officer, said by phone that 147 passengers had been rescued so far, but gave no further details.

The students are from a high school in Ansan city near Seoul and they were on their way to the Jeju island for a four-day trip, according to a relief team set up by Gyeonggi Province, which governs the city. The ship left Incheon port, just west of Seoul, on Tuesday evening, according to the state-run Busan Regional Maritime Affairs & Port Administration.

A total of 18 helicopters and 34 rescue boats have been sent to the area, Vice Minister Lee Gyeong-og told a televised news conference. He said President Park Geun-hye has ordered a through rescue operation to prevent any human casualties.

The Canadian Press

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