Missing Ferry Passengers’ Chances of Survival Waning

A South Korean ferry by the name of “Sewol” capsized recently off the coast of South Korea as it was transporting hundreds of people, mostly students, to an island called Jeju off the Korean peninsula’s southernmost tip. Jeju, often referred to as the Hawaii of South Korea, is located less than 50 miles off South Korea’s southern coast.

Of the nearly 500 passengers and crew on board, only about 180 have been rescued thus far. It has now been more than 24 full hours since the ferry capsized and rescuers are growing increasingly pessimistic about finding any of the 300 or so missing passengers and crew alive. Experts such as Mike Tipton, professor of human and applied physiology at Britain’s Portsmouth University and co-author of “Essentials of Sea Survival”, have made it clear that surviving even 12 hours inside the ferry would be a daunting task. Mr. Tipton went on to say that he fears many of the missing passengers and crew have already drowned. Of course, there is a chance that some of the survivors are trapped in air pockets throughout the ferry, but as time wears on even their chances of survival are slim to none as oxygen inside the capsized vessel grows increasingly scarce.

Furthermore, the water temperatures where the ferry capsized are roughly as cold as those off the Eastern coast of the United States, making hypothermia a very real concern for any of the people who may still be trapped within the capsized ferry. Even if survivors are resting in air pockets within the ferry, their wet clothes put them at great risk of succumbing to hypothermia. US Naval and South Korean rescue teams have been on the scene for more than a day now, but swift currents and murky water are making any rescue efforts that much more challenging. At many points yesterday divers were simply feeling with their hands as they could see almost nothing underneath the water. Weather conditions have not improved on Thursday and what was once a rescue effort is more speedily changing to a recovery effort as most of the missing passengers and crew are feared dead. Nonetheless, countless rescuers are still combing both the waters around the vessel and inside the vessel itself in hopes of finding any signs of life.