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Students Trapped on Sinking Ferry Send Out Heartbreaking Texts

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A passenger describes women screaming in the darkness. A father learns his child is trapped. A son, fearing death, tells his mother he loves her.


In this handout image provided by the Republic of Korea Coast Guard, a passenger ferry sinks off the coast of Jindo Island on April 16, 2014 in Jindo-gun, South Korea. The ferry identified as the Sewol was carrying about 470 passengers, including students and teachers, traveling to Jeju island. (Credit: The Republic of Korea Coast Guard via Getty Images)

Investigators haven’t said what caused a South Korean ferry boat carrying hundreds of passengers to capsize on Wednesday. But as rescuers searched frigid waters for nearly 300 missing people, text messages surfaced describing the harrowing moments after the ferry started to roll.

CNN affiliate YTN reported on several messages, purportedly from passengers aboard the sinking vessel to their loved ones. CNN could not independently confirm the authenticity of the messages or when they were sent. It’s also unclear what happened to the people who sent them.

The messages, widely reported in South Korean media, paint a chaotic picture of the situation aboard the ferry as hundreds of passengers waited for help and some reached out to loved ones.

‘We are not dead yet’

 “No phone connection so there is no Internet connection. So just sending text message. There are few people on the ship, can’t see a thing, it’s totally dark. So there are few men and women, women are screaming,” says one purported text message from a passenger obtained by CNN.

“There are a few people in the ship,” the student writes to his mother, “and we are not dead yet, so please send along this message.”

A son reaches out

“Mom, in case I won’t get to tell you, I’m sending this. I love you,” another message said, according to CNN affiliate YTN.

The mom, apparently unaware of what was happening, responded, “Why?”

Then, “I, too, love you, son.”

A father offers his child advice

In another exchange described by YTN, a father advised his teenager to get out of his room so rescuers would find him.

“No — I can’t move because it is tilted too much. Moving is more dangerous,” the teen replies.

Later, the teen writes, “No, Dad, I can’t walk now. There are no kids in the hallway. And it is too tilted.”

‘The ship got hit by something’

“I was on my way to Jeju Island,” a passenger wrote in a message to his brother, according to YTN.

“The ship got hit by something and is not moving and the coast guards are on the way.”