PENG MOK, SOUTH KOREA – It is heartbreaking stuff.
287 people remain missing. 9 people are confirmed dead. No one knows exactly why the South Korean ferry carrying mostly high school students went under. But as time goes on, hope of finding survivors diminishes.
“The ability to survive in those kind of temperatures in hours, not days… I think the real issue is – is there anybody inside the ship trapped in an air pocket?” says Admiral Thad Allen, U.S. National Incident Commander.
As the search continues, word has surfaced that the captain of the ferry was the first to escape. It’s been reported that only one of the ship’s 46 lifeboats was deployed, and that’s the one that 69-year-old Captain Lee Joon-Seok may have hopped in. He is now under criminal investigation.
“I am sorry. I am at a loss for words,” he told reporters with his head down.
Passengers were apparently told to stay in place as the ship started to violently tilt.
“We were told to stay where you are, so we kept staying, but later on, the water level came up,” said one student who was rescued.
“So I was staying put; but suddenly the water came up to my face, so I think it was a narrow escape from dying,” said another.
Text messages between panicked families and frantic parents paint a horrifying picture.
One student reportedly wrote to his mom: “Sending this in case I may not be able to say this again. Mom, I love you.” He was later rescued.
So many others remain lost.