World / Asia-Pacific

Embassy says 2 Chinese nationals aboard capsized S.Korean ship

(Xinhua/Agencies) Updated: 2014-04-17 11:46

Embassy says 2 Chinese nationals aboard capsized S.Korean ship

Family members of missing passengers who were on South Korean ferry "Sewol" which sank at the sea off Jindo cry as they wait for news of their family from a rescue team, at a gym in Jindo April 17, 2014.[Photo/Agencies]

SEOUL - The Chinese embassy here confirmed Thursday that two Chinese citizens were on board a South Korean passenger ship, which capsized in waters off South Korea's southwest coast Wednesday, leaving at least nine people dead and 287 others still unaccounted for.

Embassy says 2 Chinese nationals aboard capsized S.Korean ship

 Passengers wait for words

Embassy says 2 Chinese nationals aboard capsized S.Korean ship

'I am sorry,' captain says

The two Chinese nationals, one male and the other female, were aboard the ill-fated ship from the western port city of Incheon to the southern resort island of Jeju, an official with the Chinese embassy said.

Separately, a Xinhua correspondent learned later in the day that a teenager of Chinese origin was also among the victims still missing a day after the deadly maritime accident.

Parents of the high school student confirmed the news, but declined to say whether she has gotten South Korean citizenship.

The passengers aboard the ship included 325 students and 15 teachers from Danwon High School in Ansan, a Seoul suburb, which, according to the Chinese embassy, is home to a lot of Chinese people.

Meanwhile, the relatives of the two confirmed Chinese passengers claimed to have seen them get aboard the ship with a vehicle in security camera footage.

According to local regulations, passengers with a vehicle could board the ship by only registering the plate number, instead of giving their personal information, which might explain why South Korean authorities had failed to find the information of the two Chinese passengers.

Search for ferry passengers resumes

Search operations resumed in full scale Thursday for hundreds of passengers missing after their ferry sank off South Korea's southern coast a day earlier in what is believed to be one of the country's deadliest offshore accidents.[Photos]

Nine out of 475 passengers, mostly high school students, aboard the 6,325-ton ferry Sewol have been confirmed dead so far, while 179 others have been rescued. But the fate of the remaining 287 remains unknown amid growing fears they are trapped inside the sunken ship.

Combing the submerged ship is the top priority in the search, though diving operations have been hampered by poor underwater visibility and strong currents at the scene. A total of 555 Navy, Coast Guard and other divers have been mobilized for the operations, officials said.

The water is very murky as currents stir up mud lying at the bottom of the sea, officials said.

"We carried out underwater searches five times from midnight until early in the morning, but strong currents and the murky water pose tremendous obstacles," said Kang Byung-kyu, minister for security and public administration, during a press briefing. "We will do our best."

Also mobilized to scour the area are 169 boats and 29 aircraft, Kang said. Two salvage cranes are also on their way to the scene to raise the sunken vessel, with one of them expected to arrive on Friday morning and the other in the evening, the minister said.

The ferry was on its way to the southern resort island of Jeju after from the port of Incheon, west of Seoul, when it sent a distress signal at 8:58 a.m. Wednesday. The circumstance leading to calling for help was not yet known, though survivors said they heard a bang before the vessel started tilting over.

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