UPDATE: Death toll rises to 25 in South Korea ferry disaster

BY Justin Scuiletti  April 17, 2014 at 5:53 PM EDT
Rescue teams continued searching for missing passengers Thursday aboard a capsized ferry off the coast of South Korea. Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Rescue teams continued searching for missing passengers Thursday aboard a capsized ferry off the coast of South Korea. Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Updated April 17, 5:53 p.m. EDT | The confirmed death toll from Wednesday’s ferry sinking off of the southern coast of South Korea is 25, the coast guard said. But the number is expected to rise with about 270 people missing, many of them high school students on a class trip. Officials said there were 179 survivors.

Updated April 17, 10:50 a.m. p.m. EDT | Rescuers continued search attempts Thursday for hundreds of missing passengers from a capsized ferry sinking 12 miles off the coast of South Korea.

Nine passengers have been confirmed dead, the South Korean government claims, with 179 rescued thus far. Rescue teams battling murky, cold waters, rain, fog and powerful waves attempted to draw responses from passengers that could still be trapped on the ship by hammering on the hull, but received no answer.

The ferry’s captain, Lee Joon-seok, is under investigation and faces potential criminal charges after abandoning the ship via lifeboat 32 minutes after reporting an accident.

The ferry sank Wednesday carrying 475 passengers, a majority of them high school students.