As the South Korea Ferry “Sewol” began to take on water on Tuesday with 462 passengers onboard, some tried to reach out to loved ones via text, realizing the worst was likely happening.

Texts Sent As South Korea Ferry Sank

Most of the passengers aboard were students from a suburban Seoul high school, who were traveling with 15 teachers. “Mom, this might be the last chance to tell you I love you,” one student wrote to his or her mother, reported the New York Daily News. Another frightened student reached out to her father, explaining why she couldn’t get out of the ship.

“Dad, I can’t walk out because the ship is tilted, and I don’t see anyone in the corridor,” the unidentified student texted.

So far, 175 passengers have been rescued from the wreckage, including 75 from Danwah High School.

Survivors Recount Sinking

One of the rescued students, Lim Hyeong-min, revealed that he knew something was wrong when it felt like the ferry was being shaken. “The ferry started tipping, and I jumped into the sea,” Lim told JTBC, a South Korean news network. “The height from the ferry to the water was lower than a one-story building. Rescue boats were right near, so I swam to one boat. The water was so cold.”

Another student conveyed the mass chaos that ensued once the ferry began to tilt and the water came pouring in. “The water rushed in, up to my neck, and it was difficult to climb to the top of the boat because it was badly tilted,” passenger Kim Tae-young told the cable channel News Y. “I saw shipping containers tossed off the ship’s deck and floating in the water. I also saw a vending machine toppled and two girls trapped under it.”

Rescue efforts are ongoing, as 281 people have yet to be located. Lee Jun-seok, the ferry’s captain is among the rescued and will continue to be questioned by authorities, who’ve yet to announce what happened to the ferry to cause the tragic sinking roughly 60 miles south of South Korea.

The Danwah High students as well as a group of 17 former classmates who were celebrating a 60th birthday, had embarked on a 13 ½-hour trip to the volcanic island of Jeju. Catastrophe struck mere hours into the journey.

– Chelsea Regan

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