South Korea ferry disaster: Timeline of events

Coast guard members search for passengers near a South Korean ferry (centre) that capsized on its way to Jeju island from Incheon, at sea some 20km off the island of Byungpoong in Jindo on April 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Coast guard members search for passengers near a South Korean ferry (centre) that capsized on its way to Jeju island from Incheon, at sea some 20km off the island of Byungpoong in Jindo on April 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

South Korean ferry Sewol ran into trouble on Wednesday while sailing from the port city of Incheon for Jeju Island. The five-storey vessel with 475 people on board. The vessel listed violently, capsized and finally sank - all within two hours of sending a distress signal at 9am local time.

Here is a timeline of events:

Tuesday

Around 9pm:

The 6,825-tonne vessel leaves from Incheon for Jeju Island, more than two hours later than scheduled due to thick fog.

There were 475 people - including 375 teenage students on a school trip - on board the ferry which plies the route twice a week. It was also carrying 180 vehicles and 1,157 metric tonnes of cargo. The vessel, named “Sewol,” or “time and tide” in Korean, can carry as many as 921 passengers and 130 vehicles.

Wednesday

8.58am:

Ship sends distress signal. Passengers hear a loud bang and the ship starts to sink. But onboard announcements instruct passengers to stay in their seats or cabins, according to survivors.

9.30am:

The ferry tilts to 60 degrees.Coastguard ships and helicopters start to arrive at the scene.

Most passengers had remained in their seat for "30 to 40 minutes" after the ferry first foundered, in line with instructions they received from crew members and over the internal tannoy system, according to a survivor. One 61-year-old woman escaped after ignoring the advice to stay in her cabin, which she said was still being relayed as it filled with water.

Some survivors were picked up by small commercial vessels that got to the scene ahead of the navy and coastguard.

10am:

The first helicopter arrives and starts to rescue passengers from the upturned side of the ferry.

10-10.23am:

Rescuers start to search for passengers from the overturned side of the vessel.

10.23am:

Only the front end of the upturned ship is visible.

11am:

First fatality reported.

11.20am:

Ferry sinks completely.

Sources: AFP, REUTERS, Yonhap

South Korea ferry sinking graphic