"It's difficult for the passengers to move," said crew of S.Korean ferry

by Reuters
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 02:54 GMT

SEOUL, April 22 (Reuters) - Here is the dramatic, confused exchange between a sinking South Korean ferry and maritime traffic control on the southern honeymoon island of Jeju after the vessel started to list at 8.49 a.m. last Wednesday (2349 GMT Tuesday).

The Sewol sank on a routine trip from the port of Incheon to Jeju. Of the 476 passengers and crew on board, 339 were children and teachers on a high school outing. Only 174 people have been rescued and the remainder are all presumed to have drowned.

The official confirmed death toll is over 100.

A boy called a fire station by his mobile phone at 8.52 a.m., a fire officer said. The ship sent out a distress call to Jeju at 8.55 a.m. Jeju then notified the nearer control station on the island of Jindo.

The conversation was transcribed from a release by the government.

8.55 a.m. Sewol: "Jeju, do you copy?"

Jeju: "Yes Sewol, this is Jeju."

Sewol: "Contact the coastguard. The ship is in danger. The ship is listing."

8.56 a.m. Jeju: "Where is your ship? We'll contact the coastguard."

Sewol: "The ship is capsizing. We can't move. Come quickly. We are next to Byeongpung Island."

Jeju: "Roger that."

Jeju to coastguard: "Emergency call made."

8.58 a.m. Jeju: "Sewol, this is Jeju, do you copy? Sewol, this is Jeju."

Sewol: "Jeju, this is the Sewol."

9.00 a.m. Jeju: "Sewol, this is Jeju."

Sewol: "Yes, this is the Sewol."

Jeju: "How is the situation right now?"

Sewol: "The ship is listed to the left. Containers have fallen."

Jeju: "OK. What about the passengers?"

Sewol: "We can't confirm. The ship is listed so we can't move."

Jeju: "OK. Make passengers wear life jackets and get ready in case you need to abandon ship."

Sewol: "It's difficult for the passengers to move now."

Jeju: "OK."

9.05 a.m. Sewol: "Jeju, this is the Sewol. Do you copy?"

Jeju: "Yes, Sewol, this is Jeju."

Sewol: "What's happening with the coastguard?"

Jeju: "We've notified the coastguard. We are on the line with Jindo VTS (vessel traffic services) and Wando (another island) VTS. Stand by." (Reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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