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South Korea Ferry Disaster

South Korea Ferry: 'The Neighborhood Is Like a Funeral Home'

At the school where dozens of students were missing and feared dead after the South Korea ferry disaster, emotions ranged from grief to fury Friday as parents anxiously awaited news.

Desks in the classrooms of Danwon High School in Ansan are cluttered with textbooks, gym clothes - small bits of ordinary school life now infused with heartbreak.

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More than 320 second-year students — mostly 16- and 17-year-olds — left Tuesday night for what was supposed to be one of the highlights of the year, a 14-hour overnight ferry trip to the southern resort island of Jeju for four days of fun.

"Do you believe they're still alive?" Lee Mi-shim, a 48-year-old mother of a missing student, asked a reporter as tears streamed down her face. "I know the chances aren't good. ... No one in his class has been rescued."

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The 25 people confirmed dead Thursday include at least four students and two teachers, and there's fear that number will go much higher because so many of the passengers were from the school. More than a dozen teachers were on board.

"My baby is trapped in cold waters now. How can I sleep comfortably?" said a 63-year-old grandmother of a missing student who gave only her surname, Kim.

Image: Students hold signs with messages of hope at Danwon High School in Ansan, South Korea
Students at Danwon High School in Ansan, South Korea, hold signs with messages of hope for the return of their missing friends who were on the sunken ferry.YONHAP / Reuters

In the morning, people sat and stared vacantly at a giant TV screen broadcasting news of the sinking. Later in the day, fury erupted over the pace of the rescue operation.

Ko Jae Hyoung, whose daughter is a first-year student at the school, was among about 30 residents who held a candlelight vigil on Thursday night. He remembers some of the missing students laughing and joking.

"Now, the neighborhood is like a funeral home," he said.

- Reuters