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Letter from Ansan

Tragedy-hit town plunged in grief and mourning

As a reporter of Thailand's Nation TV, I have come to Ansan to cover news about one of the world's most tragic ferry accidents. More than 300 students and teachers from a school here were on board the ill-fated Sewol when it capsized on April 16.

My coverage has extended from Jindo Island, which is near the disaster site, to Ansan.

On Tuesday, when I reached Ansan, search operations were still going on to find passengers.

While there have been some survivors, the huge number of fatalities in the accident have clearly devastated people across the town.

The driver of the taxi we travelled in could not hold back his tears upon learning that we were there to report on the ferry tragedy and the affected people.

The Danwon High School has suspended classes since the accident happened. But people kept flocking to its compound to write messages of condolences and to express moral support to the victims' families.

One by one, messages and banners were posted in front of the school. One by one, mourners laid flowers in remembrance of the victims.

Funeral rites for 11 victims were held at another location in Ansan on Tuesday. The rites were only for relatives hence I waited outside. I could feel the intense gloom and grief in the air.

At a local grocery shop, I noticed many messages of condolences and moral support posted on its closed doors.

Many children were preparing messages at the time I showed up.

These children, through an interpreter, told me that the grocery shop's owner had suspended his business and rushed to Jindo to wait for news on his missing son.

"We pray for the return of his son," one of the children said.

By nightfall, candle-lit vigils were held in the heart of Ansan town as people prayed for the victims and their families.

When I attended the memorial for the deceased at an indoor stadium yesterday morning, I could hear people crying all the time.

And there, I watched on a giant TV screen the pictures of the victims.

I may not have known any of victims in person, but my condolences and prayers go to them and their families.

For those who remain unaccounted for, I hope they have survived the accident and can soon be reunited with loved ones.

I am praying for a miracle.

- Stay tuned to Nation TV every day for special coverage of the South Korea's ferry tragedy.


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