TODAY   |  April 17, 2014

Students on sinking ferry send heartbreaking texts

The search for survivors continues after a ferry carrying 459 people capsized and sank off the Southern coast of South Korea Wednesday. CNBC’s Eunice Yoon reports.

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>> hoping there may be survivors in that ferry diaster 34. young students text messaging their parents in those final moments.

>> yeah, the boat went over on that one side, there's a particular area of the boat i think that they're concentrating the search on to see if there's pockets of air where survivors could be.

>> exactly. the u.s. is involved in that search. we're going to get to that in a moment. let's go to nbc's eunice yoon . she's in seoul, south korea 3.

>> good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, savannah, emergency teams used flood lights and flares to search the stricken vessel overnight and continuing this morning. the south korean coast guard says visibility in the water is less than two meters, delaying attempts to reach the inner most part of the ship where they hoped to find survivors. those rescued have been taken to nearby jindo island .

>> reporter: painstaking and heartbreaking. families waiting for any news. nothing was new. ministers and lawmakers visited here are useless. after what was supposed to be a fun four-day field trip turned into a frantic race against time . one student shot this video. the water's rising she screams. others texted their parents mom, in case i don't get a chance to speak to you, i love you. dad, the ferry has tilted too much, i can't move. survivors taken to nearby jindo island now sharing horrifying details about their ordeal. this student saying, i almost got trapped. if i was told i should go outside, i could have jumped into water through the exit. but i couldn't." another saying "i tried breaking the window at the front of the cabin using a fire extinguisher , hitting it three tiles, but it wouldn't break." the ship called the "sewol" 480 feet long set sail from a port city near seoul. just 12 hours after it departed it sank in 120 feet of water. there's still no explanation for why the ferry sank. while survivors and distraught family members wait for information, the ship's captain hiding his face apologized saying "i'm really sorry and deeply ashamed. "i don't know what to say." the government said three cranes are being moved to the site of the accident and would ave ron friday, although efforts are ongoing to establish if there are any survivors, savannah.

>> eunice yoon , thank you. let's turn to colonel abraham, the spokesman. good morning to you, sir.

>> good morning to you. thanks