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At least 290 people still missing after South Korean ferry sinks

At least 290 people still missing after South Korean ferry sinks
A South Korean ferry carrying 476 passengers and crew sank on Wednesday off the country's southern coast, leaving scores of people left unaccounted.

South Korean officials told the local media several hours after the accident that at least 290 people remained missing and two have died. The report added that the local officials had apparently made a counting error by earlier saying that 368 people had been rescued to safety.

"There's confusion over the number of people rescued," South Korea's security ministry said on its official Twitter feed. "We have difficulty in exact counting as many agencies and private fishing boats are joining the rescue operation."

Several coast guard and naval vessels plus commercial ships were involved in the search and rescue, along with 18 helicopters.

The 6,825-tonne ferry Sewol, bound for the southern resort island of Jeju, tilted over 45 degrees on the port side before it became fully capsized with only its stern visible.

The ferry had sailed out of the western port of Incheon on Tuesday evening but ran into trouble some 20 kilometres off the island of Byungpoong and the ferry had sent out a distress signal.

It remained unclear what had caused the ferry to sink and weather conditions were described as fine.