Frantic South Korean passengers aboard a ferry, many of them high school students heading on an overnight trip to Jeju Island, reached for their mobile devices to send farewell messages to friends and loved ones as the ship carrying 462 passengers and crew began to sink.
At least six people travelling on the 6,825-ton Sewol ferry were confirmed dead and hundreds more were still missing on Wednesday as the coast guard continued rescue operations. Reports said that 164 people were rescued.
South Korean news outlets also began showing electronic communications sent to family and friends of victims of the deadly accident. CBCNews.ca's Duk Han Lee translated some of those heartbreaking conversations.
Below is a text message exchange between a high school student aboard the Sewol ferry and his mother:
"Mom, I'm sending you this now because I'm afraid I might not be able to say it later. I love you," the student writes.
His mother replies seven minutes later. "Why..? I was wondering why you weren't checking the messenger..."
The student is reported to have been rescued and has since been reunited with his family.
In another set of messages, a father tries to help his child.
"I know the rescue is going on, but try coming out if possible," he writes.
"No, dad, can’t walk. The hallway is packed with kids, and it’s too tilted," the student writes.
The passenger's fate is unknown.
In a group chat, students spoke with a teacher amid the chaos.
"Are you alright, sir? Are you wearing the life vest?" the student, or students, ask.
"Kids … don’t more around and stay put … wear the vest if you can," the teacher responds.
About 15 minutes later in the group chat, a student writes "I love all of you."
That message is followed up with a note saying, "Let’s meet again alive."
In a text message exchange between a passenger named Woong Gi and his brother, the passenger's brother tries to provide reassurance that coast guard rescuers are on their way.
"Keep calm, don't panic, take your time, stay sharp, and do as they say," the passenger's brother writes.
"When data works contact me again, your brother," he adds in another message six minutes later.
The passenger is currently reported missing:
As the Sewol ship continued to sink, a high school student who was a passenger messaged 30 members of a theatre club in this text exchange obtained by South Korea's Yonhap News agency. Several other people in the conversation replied, some apparently confused by the messages about the ferry capsizing.
"If I've wronged any of you, forgive me," one student writes. "Love you guys."
The fate of the student is not yet known: