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A ferry carrying over 400 South Korean students capsized and sank near the country’s coast on Tuesday.

According to Gawker, the ferry was carrying students between the ages of 16 and 17-years-old when it capsized off Byeongpung Island. The ferry was taking 459 students and teachers to the Island of Jeju on a class trip.

The ship set sail from the northwest Korean city of Incheon Tuesday evening for Jeju, a popular tourist destination about 12 hours away. Wednesday morning, at about 9 am local time, the ferry sent a distress signal after it began leaning to one side. Officials still haven’t determined what caused the accident.

Four have been reported dead, while 194 people were rescued as Coast Guards airlifted and helped pedestrians off the sinking ship. Out of the fatalities, one has been identified as a student, another as a crew member and two others are as yet unknown. A student described the scary scene:

One student, Lim Hyung-min, told broadcaster YTN after being rescued that he and other students jumped into the ocean wearing life jackets and then swam to a nearby rescue boat.

“As the ferry was shaking and tilting, we all tripped and bumped into each another,” Lim said, adding that some people were bleeding. Once he jumped, the ocean “was so cold. … I was hurrying, thinking that I wanted to live.”

Other passengers say that officials told them to stay where they were on the ship instead of evacuating.

“I couldn’t [stay in place] because water was coming up on the ship,” a passenger named Yoo told Yonhap News. “So I got a life vest and came outside (to the deck). It would have been better if the announcement instead said ‘get out quickly.'”

Officials say the conditions were clear, but further north, heavy fog was reported and many ferry services were canceled.

SOURCE: Gawker | VIDEO CREDIT: News Inc. 

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