South Korean officials said as many as 295 people were still unaccounted for after a ferry carrying 477 passengers and crew capsized off the south coast on Wednesday.
As the government retracted an earlier announcement that 368 people had been rescued, the South Korean coastguard said it could only confirm 180 had been brought to safety.
"Our official tally is 180. We have no idea where that 368 figure came from," a coastguard spokesman told AFP.
Two people were confirmed dead.