In Korean coffee shops and restaurants on Broad Avenue in Palisades Park, N.J., the South Korean ferry disaster 7,000 miles away seems to be on everyone's mind.
"It's definitely big news," said student Joe Kim. "I woke up this morning and the first thing my roommate said was, 'Did you hear?'"
"It's very saddening," he added.
The devastating image of the capsized vessel off the coast of South Korea is on the front page of the Korean-language newspaper and on continuous breaking-news coverage on local Korean television.
Survivors told Korean media there was a loud bang, and then the ferry headed toward the tropical Jeju Island lost control and began to sink. One student told reporters at the scene that he and his friends asked if they should escape but an announcement urged them to stay still.
Almost 200 people were rescued by dozens of helicopters and boats, including a U.S. Navy ship, but almost 300 more remain missing. The 160,000 members of New Jersey's Korean-American community are watching and waiting to see if the tragic accident involves any of their family or friends.
The pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Palisades Park says he will ask his congregants to pray for a miracle.
"There might be a lot of survivors and hopefully the rescue team will find them and rescue as many as they can," said Rev. Do Il Kim.
-- Jen Maxfield contributed to this report.