**2 Dead, 290 Missing After South Korea Ferry Sinks**
South Korea's coast guard says two people are dead and at least 290 missing after a passenger boat sank off the country's southern coast Wednesday.
The ferry was carrying more than 470 people, mostly students, to the resort island of Jeju when it sank in what appeared to be calm conditions.
Officials initially announced only around 100 people were unaccounted for. But they later drastically increased that number for unknown reasons.
Many could be trapped inside the almost completely submerged ship, though officials say some missing passengers may have been rescued by nearby commercial vessels.
South Korean Vice Minister of Security and Public Information Lee Gyeong-og said a massive rescue effort is under way.
A team of South Korean navy SEALS is also participating in the rescue.
The U.S. Navy said it is sending an amphibious assault ship, the USS Bonhome Richard, to join the search and rescue operation.
Most of the passengers were high school students headed to Jeju island on a school outing.
**China Growth Slows to 7.4 Percent**
China's economy grew 7.4 percent in the first quarter of this year, the slowest rate in 18 months for the world's second biggest economy.
The growth rate exceeded what economists were expecting. But still, it was down from the 7.7 percent growth rate in the last three months of 2013.
Beijing set a modest target of 7.5 percent growth for 2014, as it transitions toward a more sustainable economy based on domestic consumption.
Chinese leaders appear for the moment to be tolerating the current pace of weaker growth, and have ruled out any major stimulus.
Earlier this month, though, China unveiled a modest stimulus package, ramping up spending on a railway project and low-cost housing.
China's economy is attempting to rebound from a prolonged slowdown, which follows three decades of staggering growth.