Pattaya Daily News

28 March 2010 :: 13:03:10 pm 16833

Possible N. Korean Involvement in Tragic Naval Disaster

Following an unexplained explosion onboard the South Korean Navy vessel Cheonan, 46 sailors are still unaccounted for and are feared dead in the waters around the disputed maritime territory with North Korea. As yet no official report has been released, however; a North Korean influence has not been ruled out.
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South Korea, the 27th of March 2010 [Pattaya Daily News]: The South Korean vessel, Cheonan sunk on Saturday after an, as yet unexplained explosion cut the boat in half, causing the stern to sink almost immediately, followed shortly after by the rest of the ship. The incident occurred just of the coast of South Korea’s Baengnyeong Island just south of the disputed maritime border with North Korea. The 1,200-tonne Cheonan had been on a routine patrol of the border when the unexplained explosion occurred.

An extensive search and rescue investigation begun almost immediately following the incident with 58 sailors rescued from the water, however; the operations had to be temporarily cancelled yesterday due to strong winds and unsafe conditions for Navy divers. The water temperature in the area where the incident took place averages approximately 3 degree Celsius, as such the remaining 46 unaccounted for sailors are now feared dead. Search and Rescue teams however; have not given up and are continuing with their efforts to reach the wrecked vessel.

Choi Won-Il, the Cheonan captain and one of the rescued sailors explained; “While I was reviewing an operation plan in my cabin, there was the sound of an explosion and the ship keeled to the right. We lost power and telecommunications. I was trapped in the cabin for five minutes before my colleagues broke the window in and let me out. When I got out, the stern had disappeared.”

As yet no confirmation has been given that the vessel sank as a result of a North Korean attack, however; officials have refused to rule out the possibility given the ever increasing tension between the respective nations in and around the maritime border. Presidential officials are reportedly investigating a number of possible causes, including; a North Korean torpedo boat attack, a mine laid by North Korean forces or an explosion of munitions aboard the Cheonan itself.

A former US naval attaché to the South Koreans, Paul Chamberlin stated that: “If it becomes clear this was an attack from North Korea, a major escalation that would lead to general war is very unlikely.”

The disputed maritime border was initially setup by UN forces following the 1950-53 Korean War, but has never truly been accepted by the North who believe the border should be moved further south. The two sides have exchange fire and been involved in various incidents even as recently as January 2010, when a North Korean naval patrol fired 360 artillery rounds into the waters around the border raising tensions between the two nations.

Reporter : John Weston   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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