SEOUL, April 16 (Xinhua) -- A passenger ship with 476 people aboard, mostly high school students, sank in waters off South Korea's southwest coast Wednesday morning, with one passenger found dead, local media reported.
The 6,825-ton passenger ship "SEWOL" was upside down and sank down into waters off the Jindo Island, just off the southwest corner of the Korean Peninsula, at around 11:30 a.m. local time Wednesday. The ship was believed to run aground in the waters.
The ferry, which was carrying 452 passengers and 24 crew members, sent out a distress signal at about 8:55 a.m. local time and had floated in the waters for some two and a half hours with its body being on the careen.
The 452 passengers on board included 324 high school students and 14 teachers who had been on the way for a school journey.
The ship departed from South Korea's western port city of Incheon Tuesday night, heading for the southern resort island of Jeju.
Among the 476 passengers, a total of 161 people were rescued as of 11 a.m. local time. The Coast Guard said a 27-year-old female crew member has been found dead.
After receiving the distress signal, the South Korean authorities, including police, firehouse, coast guard and navy, dispatched 24 rescue ships and scrambled 16 helicopters to the scene for rescue operations.
There were no Chinese passengers on board the vessel, according to the Chinese Embassy in South Korea.