The vice principal of the Danwon High School, where over 300 of its students were on board the sunken South Korea ferry, has been found hanged, local police have said.
Kang Min-Kyu was found dead near a school gymnasium on Jindo island where many of the rescued and relatives of those still missing have gathered, the Yonhap News Agency has reported.
The 52-year-old, who has been missing since Thursday, was rescued along with 178 others. Over 260 people are still missing.
A police officer says the vice principal, identified only by his surname Kang, was found dead on the island of Jindo where rescued passengers have taken shelter. He did not provide any further details.
The news of the death came on Friday as rescuers scrambled to find hundreds of people still missing from the ferry, which capsized with over 470 people on board off South Korea’s southwestern coast.
Divers have been working against strong currents and poor weather to access the sunken ship overnight as a total of 268 people, many of whom were high school students, are still missing.
Divers have also begun injecting air into the ship in an attempt to sustain potential survivors and to help the Sewol vessel float. Teams have reportedly managed to access the restaurant of the ferry and the bridge, but students are believed to be on a different floor.
Fourteen students and teachers from the school are among the 28 confirmed, in what could be one of South Korea's worst maritime disasters in over 20 years.
At the high school in Ansan, many friends and family of the missing have gathered together.
"When I first received the call telling me the news, at that time I still had hope," said Cho Kyung-mi, who was waiting for news of her missing 16 year-old nephew at the school.
"And now it's all gone."
In the classrooms of the missing, fellow students have left messages on desks, blackboards and windows, asking for the safe return of their missing friends.
"If I see you again, I'll tell you I love you, because I haven't said it to you enough," one message read.
Coastguard officials have said the investigation was focused on possible crew negligence, problems with cargo stowage and structural defects of the vessel, although the ship appears to have passed all of its safety and insurance checks.