More than 280 people are still missing after a ferry carrying 462 people, mostly high school students, sank off South Korea's southern coast.

Only four people have been confirmed dead so far, but the high number of people unaccounted for suggests that the death toll could rise drastically.

The students on the Sewol ferry were on their way to Jeju island for a four-day trip. Most were in their second year of high school, which would make them 16 or 17.

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People look out to the sea as they wait for news of their missing loved onesGetty
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Maritime police search for missing passengers near the sunken SewolReuters
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Flares are released for a night search, following the sinking of South Korean ferry SewolReuters
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Relatives check their phones as they wait for newsGetty
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A relative waits at Jindo portGetty
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Relatives check the survivor lists at Jindo portGetty
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A relative waiting for news of missing passengers stares out to seaGetty
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Helicopters fly over the Sewol as it sinks off the coast of Jindo IslandGetty
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Passengers are rescued from the sinking ferry by the Republic of Korea Coast GuardGetty
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The Republic of Korea Coast Guard attempt to rescue passengers from the stricken ferryGetty