The bodies of most of the sailors who went down with the Navy corvette Cheonan on March 26 were returned to their devastated families on Thursday. Relatives called out their names as they wailed in grief.
The stern of the Cheonan was raised 1.4 km southwest of Baeknyeong Island. As of midnight, 36 bodies had been found, fourteen in the dormitory of the engine room.
"The stern was in good condition," a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. "It seems the partitions of the compartments protected the bodies of the sailors from getting lost." But the ship was filled with cables and other debris making search operations difficult until late into the night. Eight sailors are still missing.
The bodies were flown by helicopter to a Navy base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. Salvage operations began at 9 a.m. on Thursday and the top of the radar station of the stern began to emerge from the sea 11 minutes later. At around 9:30 a.m., the entire vessel emerged from the water.
Salvage workers plan to hoist the bow out of the ocean on April 24.