Reports of what happened aboard the Sewol have been released. Some students stated they had been ushered onto upper decks by their teachers, from whence they were rescued. However, many more remained in their cabin when they received an announcement requesting to remain where they were, rather than abandoning ship.
Survivors stated that the Sewol listed so suddenly and so steep that many were unable to climb upward to safety. Many suffered injuries particularly when luggage and other people fell on top of them. Those below stated the lights went out and they could see water pouring in. Those who followed the order to remain in place, rather than heed attempting to save themselves found themselves trapped below. Some students trapped below were able to send text messages to their parents. One child texted her mother saying she could not get up the steeply angled decks and many knew of their dire situation.
Rescuers arrived on scene soon after the distress call was sent out. There was clear weather, with good visibility and within sight of land. Multiple vessels including fishing boats, commercial and coast guard were on scene. Helicopters arrived and airlifted those who had climbed onto the listing decks. However, they could only rescue those who had left their cabins. Just after two hours of listing, the Sewol capsized and eventually only a section of her upturned bow remained above water.
- 4 dead, over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes (bangordailynews.com)
- Sewol Update (shipwrecklog.com)
- 300 Missing After Korean Ferry Capsizes (marinelink.com)