If hope could lift the South Korean ferry from the indifferent ocean surrounding it, this tragedy would have already ended.
Around 9am on Tuesday, a South Korean ferry headed to the island of Jeju changed course and sank into the ocean shortly thereafter. Some passengers reported a loud bang before the accident, although an official cause of the Korean ferry’s sinking has yet to be released.
Around 160 people were saved, though there are still close to 280 passengers still unaccounted for. Adding to the tragedy is the fact that a large portion of the trapped are high school students. Oddly, even after the ferry tilted to a degree that made it hard to stand up straight, the passengers were told to stay put.
The ship went down about 12 miles south of the coast. Compared to the 500 foot length of the ferry, the water’s depth is relatively shallow at 155 feet. Still, the hull of the ship is currently the only part of the ferry above the ocean’s surface.
Divers have attempted to contact passengers trapped inside the ferry by banging on the outside, but have yet to receive any answers. With swift currents and murky waters, rescue efforts in the frigid water have been difficult. Many frantic family members have gathered at the coast to openly complain of what they perceive to be a lack of action by those involved in rescue efforts. One diver who showed up to offer his services found there was no ship to carry him to the site.
Grief continues to pile up as some of the students’ texts are revealed. One student messaged his mom:
“Mom, I’m sending you this now because I’m afraid I might not be able to say it later. I love you.”
He was later rescued, as was a small five year old girl named Kyun Ji-Yeon. The tiny girl’s mother and six year old brother, who helped save her, are still among those missing. Families of those missing refuse to give up hope, even as several bodies have been pulled from the wreckage.
The biggest hope is air pockets. Little voids of promise for those underwater. One rescue expert named Jardine-Smith said:
It does happen though, as shown when a Nigerian cook spent three days at the bottom of the ocean before being rescued. Freezing waters and utter darkness were overcome by a tiny pocket of air. Let’s hope the same kind of providence can provide some tiny pockets of hope for the students.
Image via Reuters