, potentially after hitting a rock. The Sewol, a ferry for both cars and passengers, was sailing from Incheon to Jeju, a resort island, when passengers on board heard a loud bump. Shortly thereafter, the ship started to list, triggering a crisis on board the ship, which sent out distress signals at 9:00 AM local time. Little has been confirmed about the sinking of the South Korean ship, but at least two people have died and many more are currently unaccounted for. The most dire possibility is that many passengers were stuck inside the ship when it sank, all but ensuring that the death toll will rise substantially.
Some initial reports of the sinking were relatively optimistic. Local media reported that all the students on board the ship, who were just beginning a four-day holiday, had been rescued. One such local media outlet was a CNN affiliate. However, CNN is now reporting that one of the passengers who is confirmed dead is a student. The Guardian, however, reports that a man and a female crew member are the two passengers who died.
The number of passengers who remain unaccounted for has also shifted. At one point, South Korean authorities reported that 104 passengers were missing, but that number appears to have been unduly hopeful. Current reports from both international and local sources report that nearly 300 people are still unaccounted for. Multiple media outlets have placed the total number of passengers at 476 (CNN reports 477).
What is not in question is that there is a massive and frantic rescue effort underway to save as many passengers as possible. Over 30 military and coast guard vessels and about 18 helicopters are aiding the rescue operation.
As the ship was sinking, some passengers jumped into the icy water that was rapidly overtaking the ship. Evidently, not everyone was able to dive off the ship, as passengers who have been rescued indicated that there were still people on board as the ship sank below the surface of the ocean. At present, the ship is almost entirely submerged. All that is visible is a small part of the hull.