Nightly News   |  April 17, 2014

Cell Phone Video Captures Sheer Terror on Ferry

Nearly none of the ship’s lifeboats were deployed, authorities said, even though one reportedly carried the captain to safety.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> rescuers and families have to hope and pray that survivors have found enough air to live in what was once the bottom of the hull of that ferry boat that's gone down off the coast of south korea . it's urgent enough that south korea 's president today told rescuers to hurry. it appears there will be plenty of blame to go around and there will be time for that, like how and why the captain got off the vessel so soon and why so many lifeboats went down with the ship. the passengers including over 300 high school students were headed to a popular vacation island. tonight, 271 people are still missing, 179 survived, 25 are confirmed dead . it's where we begin again tonight with nbc's keir simmons .

>> reporter: they are searching for a miracle, working in cold, choppy seas still hoping to find someone, anyone alive. they have hammered on the hull but heard nothing back. six-year-old little girl survived but her parents and older brother are still missing. she was rescuers from the stricken ship without them. two days ago passengers boarded, many of them women and children . 12 hours later, sheer terror . captured on cell phone video as the ship lurched and began to sink. text messages from hundreds of high school students on board. i think we're going to die. i really love you-all, and a message of hope, let's all see each other alive. today, outrage at the news that almost none of the ship's lifeboats were deployed, even though one apparently carried the ship's captain to safety. today, he covered his face in shame. i'm so sorry he said. the ship's owner in tears said i've committed an unforgivable sin . korean television reports that the ship made a sudden sharp turn just before it began to sink, perhaps causing the 180 vehicles and thousand tons of cargo on board to shift. on the scene today, giant cranes to lift the ferry from the seabed and ships and the u.s. navy . in the cold mirky waters below, divers do what they can. it's difficult, dangerous work. it's difficult pain staking and experts say dangerous.

>> you're talking low visibility. you're talking unstable vessel. even in the best of times, diving into something like that will be a challenge. [crying]

>> reporter: today relatives of the missing made a pilgrimage to the wreck. south korea 's president made the trip and shouted at by furious families, they know they will never see their loved ones again while this little girl waits not knowing what's become of her family. keir simmons , nbc news, london.