Sunken warship unlikely to have hit mine laid by S. Korea

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, March 29, 2010
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South Korea's Defense Minister Kim Tae-young ruled out the possibility that the sunken warship might have run into a sea mine laid by South Korean forces, leaving room for an interpretation that an outside force could have installed it if the incident indeed was caused by a mine, local media reported Monday.

"I don't believe there is a possibility that the ship ran into a mine (laid by South Korean navy)," Seoul's Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told a parliamentary defense committee, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The country removed all mines in the region when he was serving as the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2008, he reportedly said.

The remarks came after a 1,200-ton warship with 104 crew members onboard sank late Friday night near the country's northernmost island of Baekryeong after an unexplained explosion in the back of the ship, with 46 sailors still missing.

Kim added it would have been difficult to avert a mine if it was installed in some other ways.

Referring to missing sailors, the minister also said they might still be alive but are perhaps not in a state where they can be responsive to divers knocking on the ship, according to Yonhap.

While search and rescue efforts throughout the weekend produced no result, the rear portion of the vessel, where some of the 46 missing sailors are believed to be confined, was located Sunday night and a buoy was installed there Monday morning. The front half of the ship, believed to have split in half late Friday and sank in waters not far away from disputed sea border between the two Koreas, was also detected and a buoy was attached there.

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