South Korea stops search for missing sailors

South Korea's military shifted to salvaging the vessel.

South Korea stops search for missing sailors

South Korea’s military ended its underwater search for dozens of sailors missing from a navy ship that sank from a mysterious blast more than a week ago, and shifted to salvaging the vessel.

Families of the sailors asked the military to suspend the operation for fear of additional casualties among divers after one died and as chances of finding survivors grew increasingly unlikely after Saturday’s discovery of one sailor’s body.

The suspension came hours after divers discovered the body of a senior chief petty officer in the ship’s rear area, the first of the 46 missing sailors to be found.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff said it stopped the underwater search out of respect for the families’ request and will work to recover the 1,200-ton Cheonan.

Officials have said the salvage effort could last a month.

The vessel exploded March 26 and sank a few hours later during a routine patrol, and 58 crew members, including the captain, were rescued soon after.

No cause has been determined for the blast.

The disaster site is close to the disputed border which was the scene of deadly naval clashes between North and South Korea in 1999 and 2002 and of a firefight last November.

Officials have not found the cause of the explosion that broke the 1,200-tonne corvette in two in the Yellow Sea on March 26, but there have been suggestion that it was caused either by a torpedo or a mine.

However, shortly after the sinking South Korean officials noted that there was no evidence that the North was to blame.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Nisan 2010, 13:51

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