Heartbreaking video shows students as ferry sinks

2014-05-01 16:09
South Korean relatives of passengers on board a capsized ferry cry as they wait for news about their loved ones, at a gym in Jindo. (Jung Yeon-Je, AFP)

South Korean relatives of passengers on board a capsized ferry cry as they wait for news about their loved ones, at a gym in Jindo. (Jung Yeon-Je, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - Soon after the ferry begins to tilt, nervous laughter can be heard from the high school students huddled below deck. In video clips from the cellphone of a victim of a disaster that has shaken South Korea, the teenagers talk of taking selfies, wonder if they'll make the news and discuss posting about the excitement later on Facebook.

The fear in the cabin builds as the listing becomes worse. Some say they feel dizzy, that their legs are shaking. One student can be seen walking with his hands braced against the wall for balance.

"Am I really going to die?" a student asks at 08:53 16 April, less than two minutes into the video and two minutes before a crew member on the bridge made the ferry's first distress call.

Students ask whether the ship will sink and where their teachers are. "What's the captain doing?"

Several times they are warned over the loudspeaker to stay where they are, even as the tilting increases and it becomes less possible for them to flee.

The shaky video was on the cellphone of a 17-year-old student, Park Su-hyeon, when rescuers recovered his body. The boy's father provided it Thursday to The Associated Press, saying he wanted to show the world the ship's condition as it sank. Park Jong-dae, the boy's father, earlier released it to select South Korean media.

The tragedy, which has left more than 300 people dead or missing, has created a sense of national mourning, anger and shame. About 220 bodies, mostly from inside the submerged vessel, have so far been recovered. More than 80 percent of the victims were students from one high school in Ansan, south of Seoul, on their way to the southern tourist island of Jeju for a school trip.

The group of teens in the video alternate between bluster, attempts at humour and unmistakable fear.

Only one can be seen wearing a life jacket at the beginning of the video clips, which start at 8:52 a.m. and end, with a small break between them, at 09:09, when everyone appears to be wearing them.

Some of the students in the video struggle as they try to buckle their life jackets. As the ferry lists, they joke about "final commemorative pictures" and "defying gravity" by trying to walk on the walls.

"It's like we're becoming the Titanic," one student says.

Do not move

At the beginning of the video, a message blasts from the ship's loudspeakers: "Don't move away from your places and brace for any possible accidents."

In subsequent announcements, passengers are again told to stay put, even as some students question whether they should flee. The last message from the bridge comes at 09:08: "We're again announcing: For passengers who can wear life vests, please wear them now. Never move away from your places."

That warning came eight minutes after a Sewol crew member told a marine traffic official, "The body of the ship has tilted, and it's impossible to move," according to a transcript.

After the bridge ordered passengers to stay in their cabins, Capt. Lee Joon-seok took at least half an hour to order an evacuation. It is unclear whether that order was ever relayed to passengers. Lee has said he delayed evacuation because of worries about sending passengers into cold waters and fast currents before rescuers arrived.

Lee can be seen in a separate video released by the coast guard leaping from the ferry in his underwear onto a rescue boat while many passengers were still in the sinking ship.

The captain and 14 others responsible for the ferry's navigation have been detained on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Prosecutors are investigating whether stability issues related to too much cargo or a redesign that added more cabins to the ship contributed to the sinking.

Some of the teens in the video use it to offer their last words. Some warn their siblings not to take school trips unless they want to end up like them.

"I'm really scared," a student says at one point.

"Is it really sinking?" another asks. "Wow, they're giving us life vests."

"I'm getting out of here," one says. "Me too, me too," says another.

A student says: "We have to survive now."

"We're all finished. I have to leave some farewell words before I die," says another.

"Mom, I love you," says one.

Read more on:    korea  |  maritime accidents

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Miley Cyrus can’t get enough of her new puppy

Miley's new dog is too adorable.



13 guilty pets
Meet SA's top poacher-catcher
The unusual pets of Instagram
Bertie sets a new world record!

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Plant some seeds. Your innovative mind is on fire and your ingenious ideas may just be the seeds for future projects. You may meet...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.