UPDATE: 25 now confirmed dead in South Korea ferry disaster - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: 25 now confirmed dead in South Korea ferry disaster

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MOKPO, South Korea (WKOW) -- The confirmed death toll in Wednesday's sinking off the southern coast of South Korea is now at 25. 

Divers are working in shifts to try to get into the sunken ferry, but strong currents are not allowing them to enter. The coast guard says three vessels with cranes are being brought in to help with the rescue and salvage mission. 

Officials say there are about 270 people still missing, while there 179 known survivors.

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MOKPO, South Korea (WKOW) -- The number of confirmed deaths after a ferry sunk in South Korea has reached 20. There are still more than 270 people unaccounted for.

A coast guard official in South Korea says investigators are looking into whether the captain of the sunken ferry got on the first rescue boat at the scene. The captain was among the crew members who survived the sinking, which may have killed nearly 300 people.
  
A crew member says as the ship started to list, there was no immediate order for passengers to evacuate, because officers were still trying to stabilize the vessel.

Video that was shot by a survivor shows the vessel listing severely as people in life jackets cling to the side of the ship. A loudspeaker announcement can be heard telling passengers to stay in their quarters.

The search for people who were on board the ferry has been hampered today by strong, dangerous currents, as well as rain and bad visibility. But officials say divers will keep trying to enter the ship.

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JINDO, South Korea (WKOW) -- The captain of the sunken South Korean ferry is apologizing to the families for the tragic accident.

When a reporter asked him if he had any words for the family members of the missing people, mostly students, Captain Joon Suk Lee replied, "I am sorry. I am at a loss for words."

The ferry went down off the coast of South Korea Wednesday.  As of Thursday morning, nine people have been confirmed dead and nearly 300 are missing.

The captain faces possible charges of negligence and accidental homicide.  He had told passengers to put on their life jackets and stay put.  Thirty minutes later, he ordered an evacuation.

It is still unknown why the ferry sank.

Some family members heard from their missing loved ones through text messages.

One student wrote to his brother saying: "I'm on my way to Jeju Island, but the ship hit something and is not moving."  The brother replied with "Is it bad?" The student told him, "I'm inside, so I don't know." The last text message exchange was the brother telling the other one "Don't panic."

Another passenger texted his mother. He wrote: "Mom, I might not be able to tell you in person... I love you." She texted back, "Me too, son. I love you."

One mother, Christine Kim, says that her daughter told her that she didn't want to go on the trip because she had been on it before, but Christine Kim told her it would be another good experience.  Kim says she is very regretful.

More than 400 rescuers search nearby waters. Divers are working in shifts to attempt to get inside the ferry, but strong currents are preventing them from doing so effectively. Coast guard spokesperson Kim Jae-in says within the next couple of days, vessels will arrive to help with the rescue and salvage the ship.
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