SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea yesterday raised the front half of a warship that exploded and sank a month ago near a contested sea border with North Korea, finding clues that support growing suspicions Pyongyang attacked the vessel.
The 1,200-tonne corvette Cheonan sank in what military officials said was likely a torpedo attack.
Forty-six South Korean sailors were killed in what could be one of the deadliest strikes by Pyongyang on its rival since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The North has denied involvement.
South Korea’s president on Friday gave the clearest signal yet Seoul had no plan to launch a revenge attack, calming investors worried that armed conflict would damage the South’s rapidly recovering economy.
“The probably catastrophic costs of a war on the peninsula will greatly constrain the US and South Korean options for a military response, which thus remains an unlikely trigger for major military conflict,” the global strategy group Control Risks wrote in a research note this week.
The front end of the ship was raised by a giant sea crane and drained before being placed on a barge.
One body has been found so far in the just-raised wreckage and six sailors were still missing, Yonhap news agency reported. The bodies of most of the 46 missing were found in the stern section raised earlier this month. Another 58 were rescued alive.
“The way a hatch (near where the ship split in two) had been thrown off its hinge indicates there had been a very strong external impact,” Yonhap quoted an unidentified military official as saying, adding weight to the torpedo theory.