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‘We were told to stay on sinking South Korean ferry’

Students who survived the South Korean ferry disaster testified on Monday they were repeatedly ordered by loudspeaker to stay in the sinking ship but eventually helped each other flee after their cabins were flooded too much.

The six girls testified at a court session for 15 crew members responsible for the ship’s navigation, who face charges of negligence and failing to perform their duties to rescue passengers, with four of them facing homicide charges.

The students from Danwon High School near Seoul revealed how chaotic the scene on the ferry was, recalling they wore life jackets and were helped by friends to float out and leave flooded rooms. They saw some schoolmates swept away by the waters.

“We continued to wait but only came outside because the water filled the room so much,” one student said. She said she heard a message blared from the ferry’s loudspeaker that said “’Danwon High school students. Do not move!”

She also recalled how severely the ship listed, saying “The wall became the floor.” Another student said “The kids all slid down to the window side and luggage fell down.”

The teenagers said they wore life jackets at the request of a broadcast announcement or at the recommendation of friends. They said they struggled to get out of the cabins due to tumbled furniture but also stepped on them to escape the rooms.

“When I was floating, the room’s door was above my head. I came out of the cabin as a friend of mine outside grabbed my hands while another friend took my hip and lifted me up,” one student said. “After we got out of the room, we lined up at a corridor and we told each another not to cry.”

The April 16 sinking left more than 300 people dead or missing, most of them Danwon students, who were travelling to the southern island of Jeju for a school trip. A total of 325 Danwon students were aboard the ship but only 75 survived, according to local officials.


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Printable version | Jun 21, 2022 12:18:09 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/Students-who-survived-South-Korean-ferry-disaster-reveal-how-chaotic-the-scene-on-Sewol-was/article60364340.ece