Rescue continues in S Korean ship sinking, 46 still missing

13:55, March 27, 2010      

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The rescue operation to search for the 46 missing sailors of a South Korean ship that sank late Friday is still under Saturday, Seoul's Yonhap News Agency reported.

So far, 58 out of the 104 crew members aboard the 1,200-ton ship that sank off the west coast of the Korean Peninsula have been rescued, with two of them hospitalized for minor cerebral hemorrhage, the agency said. Earlier reports said 60 sailors have been rescued.

The cause for the sinking is unknown yet. President Lee Myung- bak demanded at the second emergency meeting with security officials earlier in the day a "quick and thorough" investigation and rescuing the missing by all means.

Lee also ordered related nations engaged in the six-party talks be informed of proper information about the incident while urging the government agencies to take measures to reassure the public, Presidential Office spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye said at a press briefing after the meeting.

Kim added that there are no special movements by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) so far.

The ship "Cheonan" went down off the South Korean island of Baekryeongdo off the west coast around 21:45 p.m. Friday local time (12:45 GMT Friday), with an explosion in the back of the ship, and another South Korean naval vessel fired at an unspecified target toward the north in response.

Navy and the National Maritime Police Agency has dispatched nine ships and a helicopter to the waters near the Baehryeongdo, and pledged to mobilize Navy's all rescue force to search the missing.

The military authorities will also send divers into the waters to find out whether the ship-based artillery shells or external attack caused the explosion, but it said the final conclusion cannot be made only after the sunken ship is dragged out of the water.

Yonhap also quoted unnamed official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as saying that it is too early to tell whether the DPRK played a role in the incident.

Local media reported later Friday that the incident might be caused by a possible torpedo attack from an unidentified DPRK vessel, citing military sources.

Source: Xinhua
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