Panic-filled sink­ing con­veyed in texts

Teenagers send heart-wrench­ing mes­sages to par­ents as ferry tilts

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By JUNG HA-WON in Seoul Agence France-Presse

Heart-wrench­ing mes­sages of fear, love and de­spair, sent by high school stu­dents from a sink­ing South Korean ferry, added ex­tra emo­tional weight on Thurs­day to a tragedy that has stunned the na­tion.

Nearly 300 people — most of them stu­dents on a high school trip to a hol­i­day is­land — are still miss­ing af­ter the ferry cap­sized and sank on Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

“Send­ing this in case I may not be able to say this again. Mom, I love you,” stu­dent Shin Young-jin said in a text to his mother that was widely cir­cu­lated in the coun­try’s me­dia.

“Oh, I love you too, son,” his mother texted back un­aware at the time that her boy was caught in a life-and-death strug­gle to es­cape the rapidly sink­ing ves­sel.

Un­like many oth­ers, the ex­change had a happy end­ing as Shin was one of only 179 sur­vivors res­cued.

Oth­ers were not so for­tu­nate.

An­other stu­dent, 16-yearold Kim Woong-ki, sent a des­per­ate text for help to his el­der brother as the ship listed vi­o­lently over to one side.

“My room is tilt­ing about 45 de­grees. My mo­bile is not work­ing very well,” Kim said.

Seek­ing to re­as­sure him, his brother said he was sure help was on the way.

“So don’t panic and just do what­ever you’re told to do. Then you’ll be fine,” he mes­saged back.

There was no fur­ther com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Kim was listed among the 282 people on board still unac­counted for.

Sadly his brother’s ad­vice was sim­i­lar to that of the crew, who con­tro­ver­sially or­dered pas­sen­gers to stay put when the ship first foundered.

Rel­a­tives said this re­sulted in the pas­sen­gers get­ting trapped when the ferry keeled over, cut­ting off routes of es­cape.

That grim sce­nario was en­cap­su­lated in the texts of an 18-year-old stu­dent, iden­ti­fied in the lo­cal me­dia by her sur­name Shin.

“Dad, don’t worry. I’m wear­ing a life vest and am with other girls. We’re in­side the ship, still in the hall­way,” the girl mes­saged to her fa­ther.

Her distraught fa­ther wrote back urg­ing her to try and get out, but it was al­ready too late.

“Dad, I can’t. The ship is too tilted. The hall­way is crowded with so many people,” she re­sponded in a fi­nal mes­sage.

Some par­ents man­aged a last phone call with their chil­dren as they tried to es­cape.

“He told me the ship was tilted over, and he couldn’t see any­thing,” one mother re­called of a pan­icked con­ver­sa­tion with her stu­dent son.

“He said ‘I haven’t put on the life jacket yet’, and then the phone went dead,” the mother told the Dong-A Ilbo news­pa­per.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.