Where Are the Missing Sailors?

      April 02, 2010 09:57

      Where are the 46 sailors who went missing when the Navy corvette Cheonan sank in an unexplained explosion in the West Sea on Monday? Given their duty posts, the Navy speculates that 32 were trapped in the stern, and the remaining 14 were either trapped in the bow or swept out to sea.

      In the waters where the ship sank, the difference between high tide and low tide is 3.5 m and the speed of the current is swift at 3 to 5 knots (5.5 to 9.3 km per hour). In this current, any person could easily be swept away and would be carried up to 178 km in a day or, if they survived that long, 1,068 km by Thursday, the seventh day since the shipwreck. Also, the speed and direction of the current change from moment to moment.

      Temperatures and depth are the most important factors in efforts to search for missing people at sea. If they did not wear life jackets, they could have gone under or have been swept to a nearby coast.

      Kim Yoo-hoon, an expert at the National Institute of Scientific Investigation, said, "Search operations can take weeks or months since the current temperature there is 3 to 4 degrees Celsius and the water is more than 20 to 40 m deep."

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