LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Local church leaders held a vigil Wednesday for victims aboard a sunken South Korean ferry.

More than 280 people remain missing over 24 hours after the ship carrying high school students on a field trip to Jeju island began taking in water and sank off the southwestern coast, resulting in at least nine deaths.

As officials race to save lives, members of the Korean Churches for Community Development, the Korean Federation of Los Angeles and the Council of Korean Churches in Southern California gathered to lead prayers for victims at a gathering at the Korean Federation of Los Angeles.

“The Korean community who are living in the United States wanted the families and the victims who have been shipwrecked to understand that we here support them and want to pray for them,” Korean Churches for Community Development President Hyepin Im told City News Service.

“For many Korean Americans here, our families are still in South Korea,” she said. “…In that way, we are one family. Our connection is very strong. Their sadness is our sadness.”

It’s unclear what caused the accident, but many reported hearing a loud noise before the ship started to tilt.

Passengers say there were told not to move from their seats.

Divers have been unable to get inside the wreck to look for the hundreds of missing passengers, citing strong currents and poor visibility.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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