A student on board the South Korean ferry that sank off the country's southern coast Wednesday reportedly sent a final text message to his mother: "Mom, This might be my last chance to tell you I love you."
The Los Angeles Times, citing a screen grab of the message that went viral, reported that the student’s mom replied, but got no response. His fate was not known.
According to the BBC, another text message shown on YTN, the country’s main news channel, showed a student texted his father that the ship was tilting.
"Dad, I can't walk out because the ship is tilted too much, and I don't see anyone in the corridor."
Officials in the country said at least four people are dead and 284 missing after the ship carrying 459 people, most of them high school students. They were bound for the island of Jeju when it sent a distress call at around 9 a.m. local time.
Media photos showed wet students, some without shoes, some wrapped in blankets, tended to by emergency workers. One student, Lim Hyung-min, told broadcaster YTN from a gym on a nearby island that he and other students jumped into the ocean wearing life jackets and then swam to a nearby rescue boat.
"As the ferry was shaking and tilting, we all tripped and bumped into each another," Lim said, adding that some people were bleeding. Once he jumped, the ocean "was so cold. ... I was hurrying, thinking that I wanted to live."
Park Seong-ho, the father whose son was on the ferry and had not been in contact, told Reuters at a gathering center: "I have to go now. It is as if the world is falling apart. I really want to go now to see my son."