Thousands of South Koreans are participating in memorial events nationwide for the more than 300 people who died in a ferry disaster two years ago that deeply rattled the country.

Police say about 2,500 people gathered for an event Saturday marking the second anniversary of the sinking at a memorial altar in Ansan, where most of the victims lived.

Nearly 5,000 others are expected in the evening at a square in the capital Seoul, where relatives of the victims had camped for months in protest.

A total of 304 people died when the ferry Sewol sank off South Korea's southwest coast in April 2014 in a disaster partially blamed on official incompetence and corruption. The captain is serving a life sentence over the sinking.