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Hundreds still missing in deadly Korea ferry accident

A relative weeps as she waits for missing passengers of a sunken ferry at Jindo gymnasium on April 17, 2014 in Jindo-gun, South Korea. GETTY IMAGES/ Chung Sung-Jun.

Helicopters, ships and inflatable dinghies have joined a massive search in the waters off the southwestern coast of South Korea.

They’re frantically looking for survivors after a ferry capsized on Wednesday travelling from Incheon to the holiday island, Jeju.

It’s no easy task: the currents are strong and divers are finding it difficult to enter the submerged ship.

“Total 555 divers were mobilised for search operations and three cranes departed [for an accident area] last night. One crane will arrive tomorrow morning and two will arrive at night,” South Korea’s minister of security and public administration Kang Byung-Kyu said.

Four hundred and 75 people were onboard this ferry. Most of them were students and teachers from the same high school.

Only 149 passengers have been rescued and many are believed to be trapped inside.

As rescue efforts continue, grieving parents wait on the shore for news of their children.

“Other parents have received the text messages saying there are about fifteen people (in the sunken ferry). Rescue team could not enter the ferry because of the strong tidal current,” said Oh Byung-Hwan, 43, who has a family member who is missing.

Lim Young-Gil, 50, also has a family member who is missing.

“I was in the school from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. but they had repeatedly said the same things. Nothing was new. Ministers and lawmakers visiting here are useless. They just took pictures. I asked to make a phone call directly [to search operation team], but they asked another person to do it,” Young-Gil said.

They accuse officials of being slow to react and for lack of information. As each hour passes, their hopes of seeing their loved ones alive diminish.