March 30, 2010 09:37
Divers have found the stern of the Navy corvette Cheonan, where most of the missing 46 sailors are believed to have become trapped when it sank on Friday night but got no response when they rapped on the hull.
According to experts, Monday evening was the end of the 69 hours during which enough oxygen would be left in the ship's waterproof cabins, the Yonhap news agency said. Fifty-eight crew were earlier rescued in nearby waters.
A government source said the search and salvage team failed to go into the wreck because the current was swift and the sea bottom was very muddy. They were also unable to check the state of the hull properly.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Navy said they had failed to find a clue to the cause of the shipwreck but suspect an external explosion. Only checking the direction of the blast by inspecting the hull will allow them to answer the question.
The blast was so strong that it broke the sturdy 1,200 ton corvette in two before it sank.
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