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Two dead, 293 missing as passenger ship sinks off S. Korean coast

(Xinhua)    16:35, April 16, 2014
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Helicopters fly above a sinking South Korean passenger ship in water off the southern coast in South Korea, April 16, 2014. A passenger ship with 477 people aboard, mostly high school students, sank in waters off South Korea's south coast Wednesday morning, with two people dead and 14 others wounded, local media reported. (Xinhua/Newsis)

SEOUL, April 16 -- A passenger ship with 459 people aboard, mostly high school students, sank in waters off South Korea's southwest coast Wednesday morning, leaving at least two people dead and 293 others missing, a senior government official said.

Lee Kyung-ok, vice minister of Security and Public Administration Ministry, told reporters that an initial figure for damage situation from the ferry sinking was miscalculated, saying that some figures were repeatedly included.

As of 4:30 p.m. local time, two people have been found dead, with 293 others confirmed missing and 164 people rescued, according to Lee.

The Coast Guard was quoted as saying that a 22-year-old female crew member and a male high school student have been found dead.

The 6,325-ton passenger ship"SEWOL"was capsized and sank down into waters off the Jindo Island, just off the southwest corner of the Korean Peninsula, at around 11:30 a.m. local time Wednesday.

The ferry, which was carrying 429 passengers and 30 crew members, sent out a distress signal at about 8:55 a.m. and had floated in the waters for some two and a half hours with its body being on a careen.

The 429 passengers on board included 325 high school students and 15 teachers who had been on the way for a school journey.

The vessel was believed to run aground in the waters as some rescued passengers said the ship began to careen to the port side after making a banging sound on the bow.

The ferry went off the pre-arranged sea route as it departed some two and a half hours later than scheduled due to a thick fog.

The vice minister said 350 more rescuers were dispatched to the scene to help search for the 293 missing people, some of whom were feared to be trapped inside the sunken vessel.

The ship departed from South Korea's western port city of Incheon Tuesday night, heading for the southern resort island of Jeju.

After receiving the distress signal, the South Korean authorities, including police, firehouse, coast guard and navy, dispatched 72 rescue ships and scrambled 18 helicopters to the scene for rescue operations.

There was no Chinese passenger on board the vessel, according to the Chinese Embassy in South Korea.

(Editor:KongDefang、Yao Chun)

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