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Ferry captain on only lifeboat deployed? Passengers may be alive in air pockets

The ferry that sunk off the coast of South Korea may still have survivors trapped inside in air pockets, according to reports today. The 289 passengers still missing are mostly school kids who were headed out on a field trip when the ferry Sewol hit an unknown entity and began sinking, according to Inside Korea on April 16.

Are passengers still alive in air pockets inside ferry?
Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

“Fox and Friends” live on Thursday April 17, reports that the captain of the ship was one of the first people off the ship. He made it to safety in a lifeboat, according to ABC News today. Pictures of the captain today show him hanging his head in shame under the hood of a sweatshirt. The possibility of survivors still left in the hull of the sunken ferry is under investigation by Korean authorities.

CNN News reports April 17, that only one lifeboat was deployed out of the 46 lifeboats that were on that ferry. This is an unconfirmed report, but if it is true, this means that the captain was on the only lifeboat deployed. Pictures of the ship before it went down did show lifeboats still attached to the ship. When asked if the captain had anything to say to the families of the almost 300 missing, Captain Lee Joon Suk said:

"I am sorry, I am at a loss for words."

A civilian diver who helped authorities with the rescue mission heard children screaming for help inside the sunken vessel, reports claim today. Another report claims that one of the missing passengers called a family member to say they were with four people in the arcade area of the ship.

This is a nightmare for the family members of the almost 300 people unaccounted for. To think that there is a chance that their loved ones are in a watery grave, still alive must be the worst mental torture one could endure. None of the claims of people alive in the hull of the ill-fated ship have been confirmed, but officials are investigating these claims.

Confirmed reports that the captain is safely on land has sparked rage about the way this incident was handled. Authorities are investigating why this ship veered off its usual course. When the ship first made impact with some unknown entity the passengers were told to “stay put.” This caused the passengers to stay inside the ship to their assigned areas. The captain reportedly left in a lifeboat a little more than a half-hour after the impact of the ship, which started the sinking of the vessel.

That “stay put” order was heeded, trapping hundreds inside the ship when it capsized. The death toll is officially nine today, but that number is expected to rise dramatically as bodies are recovered from inside the ship, according to The Independent.

Heart wrenching final text messages are shared with the media today. These messages went out to the parents from their kids who were on the ferry, who were originally thinking they were about to enjoy a field trip on an island far from their homes. One father shared the text message he received from his daughter who was inside the vessel.

The father suggested that she go to an outside deck, but she assured him she was wearing her life vest that she was with friends waiting for their next move. She said “There are many kids in the hallway and it is tilted too high.” This seemed to be the case for a few of the people who sent text messages to their loved ones. The ship’s tilt was at such an angle that they couldn’t walk on the floor to get to the outside.

Another man shared his text message from his son:

"Dad, I can't walk out because the ship is tilted too much, and I don't see anyone in the corridor"

Yoo Yonhap, a 57-year-old man told reporters:

"A broadcast said: 'Stay where you are.' But I couldn't because the water level was rising. I wore the safety jacket and came out. If they told us to evacuate immediately, it would have been better."

Koo Bon-hee, a 36-year-old man said that he and a few other passengers had on their life jackets and because of the tilt of the boat they couldn’t get out. They waited for the area to fill with water to actually float their way out through an exit. He also said:

"The rescue wasn't done well. We were wearing life jackets. We had time," Mr Koo said from his hospital bed. "If people had jumped into the water... they could have been rescued. But we were told not to go out."

The stories are horrifying, as the passengers trusted in the captain's orders to "stay where you are," just to be trapped below deck. Only 174 people were rescued out of the almost 500 people on board and reports are plentiful about the lack of effort that was made to save the passengers by the ship's crew.

Not much thought that went into getting any of the passengers to safety, except of course for the captain. He arrived safe and sound on dry land as his ship filled with mostly kids was going down into the depths of the ocean. He could face criminal charges for this tragedy, as he is under investigation today.