Heartbreaking video shows students as ferry sinks

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Workers weep during a May Day rally to pay tribute to the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, May 1, 2014. An off-duty captain of the sunken South Korean ferry has told investigators that the owners ignored his warning that the ship shouldn’t carry too much cargo because it wasn’t very stable, a prosecutor said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Workers weep during a May Day rally to pay tribute to the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, May 1, 2014. An off-duty captain of the sunken South Korean ferry has told investigators that the owners ignored his warning that the ship shouldn’t carry too much cargo because it wasn’t very stable, a prosecutor said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A woman ties a yellow ribbon after paying tribute to the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol as yellow ribbons are displayed as a sign of hope for the safe return of missing passengers at a group memorial altar in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, May 1, 2014. An off-duty captain of the sunken South Korean ferry has told investigators that the owners ignored his warning that the ship shouldn’t carry too much cargo because it wasn’t very stable, a prosecutor said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Workers hold up cards reading “We don’t need this kind of president!” during a May Day rally to pay tribute to the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, May 1, 2014. An off-duty captain of the sunken South Korean ferry has told investigators that the owners ignored his warning that the ship shouldn’t carry too much cargo because it wasn’t very stable, a prosecutor said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Workers wearing traditional funeral clothing shout slogans during a May Day rally to pay tribute to the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, May 1, 2014. An off-duty captain of the sunken South Korean ferry has told investigators that the owners ignored his warning that the ship shouldn’t carry too much cargo because it wasn’t very stable, a prosecutor said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A man ties a yellow ribbon after paying tribute to the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol as yellow ribbons are displayed as a sign of hope for the safe return of missing passengers at a group memorial altar in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, May 1, 2014. An off-duty captain of the sunken South Korean ferry has told investigators that the owners ignored his warning that the ship shouldn’t carry too much cargo because it wasn’t very stable, a prosecutor said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Soon after the ferry begins to tilt, nervous laughter can be heard from the high school students huddled below deck. In video clips from the cellphone of a victim of a disaster that has shaken South Korea, the teenagers talk of taking selfies, wonder if they’ll make the news and discuss posting about the excitement later on Facebook.

The fear in the cabin builds as the listing becomes worse. Some say they feel dizzy, that their legs are shaking. One student can be seen walking with his hands braced against the wall for balance.

“Am I really going to die?” a student asks at 8:53 a.m. April 16, less than two minutes into the video and two minutes before a crew member on the bridge made the ferry’s first distress call.

Students ask whether the ship will sink and where their teachers are. “What’s the captain doing?”

Several times they are warned over the loudspeaker to stay where they are, even as the tilting increases and it becomes less possible for them to flee.

The shaky video was on the cellphone of a 17-year-old student, Park Su-hyeon, when rescuers recovered his body. The boy’s father provided it Thursday to The Associated Press, saying he wanted to show the world the ship’s condition as it sank. Park Jong-dae, the boy’s father, earlier released it to select South Korean media.

The tragedy, which has left more than 300 people dead or missing, has created a sense of national mourning, anger and shame. Nearly 220 bodies, mostly from inside the submerged vessel, have so far been recovered. More than 80 percent of the victims were students from one high school in Ansan, south of Seoul, on their way to the southern tourist island of Jeju for a school trip.

The group of teens in the video alternate between bluster, attempts at humor and unmistakable fear.

Only one can be seen wearing a life jacket at the beginning of the video clips, which start at 8:52 a.m. and end, with a small break between them, at 9:09, when everyone appears to be wearing them.

Some of the students in the video struggle as they try to buckle their life jackets. As the ferry lists, they joke about “final commemorative pictures” and “defying gravity” by trying to walk on the walls.

“It’s like we’re becoming the Titanic,” one student says.

At the beginning of the video, a message blasts from the ship’s loudspeakers: “Don’t move away from your places and brace for any possible accidents.”

In subsequent announcements, passengers are again told to stay put, even as some students question whether they should flee. The last message from the bridge comes at 9:08: “We’re again announcing: For passengers who can wear life vests, please wear them now. Never move away from your places.”

That warning came eight minutes after a Sewol crew member told a marine traffic official, “The body of the ship has tilted, and it’s impossible to move,” according to a transcript.

After the bridge ordered passengers to stay in their cabins, Capt. Lee Joon-seok took at least half an hour to order an evacuation. It is unclear whether that order was ever relayed to passengers. Lee has said he delayed evacuation because of worries

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