TODAY   |  April 16, 2014

At least 4 dead after ferry sinks off South Korea

A crowded ferry sank off the coast of South Korea overnight. At least four people are dead and nearly 300 are missing. A frantic rescue operation is underway. CNBC’s Eunice Yoon reports.

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>> get right to our top story, and it's breaking news coming out of south korea this morning. rescuers are scrambling to locate survivors from that ferry disaster amid fears that the death toll could rise drastically. eunice yun has the story.

>> reporter: this could be the worst south korean disaster in years. four are dead. 291 are missing. they were aboard the sewol, which has the capacity to harry 900 people. tourists fighting for their lives. a trip to an island known as south korea 's hawaii was never supposed to end this ware. their ferry carrying hundreds of passengers, many of them students on a four-day field trip , set sail tuesday from a port city near seoul. as it neared jeju island today, something went tragically wrong. eyewitnesss say they heard a loud bang before the ferry lost control. this survivor saying the ship was tilted more than 45 degrees. it was very tense. the ship sent out a distress call , but there was confusion onboard. the student saying, "the ferry started to list, so we asked if we should escape now, but the announcement kept telling us to stay still." minutes later, rescuers including a u.s. navy ship arrived with helicopters, racing against time, lifting passengers to safety one by one. back on shore, parents clearly overwrought. desperate for more information about their children. the u.s. navy is on the scene helping south korea find the hundreds still missing. savannah?

>> eunice yun in beijing for us, thank you.