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SKorea stops underwater search for missing sailors

 South Korean Navy's Ship Salvage Unit members on rubber boats search for missing sailors of the sunken South Korean navy ship Cheonan off South Korea...
 South Korean Navy's Ship Salvage Unit members on rubber boats search for sailors of the sunken South Korean navy ship Cheonan off South Korea's Baeng...
 Family members of missing sailors of South Korean naval ship Cheonan on board South Korean navy's rescue vessel Gwangyang visit a site of the sunken ...
 An unidentified family member of a missing sailor of South Korean naval ship Cheonan weeps as she on board South Korean navy's rescue vessel Gwangyan...
 South Korean Navy's Ship Salvage Unit members on rubber boats search for survivors from the sunken South Korean navy ship Cheonan off South Korea's B...
 South Korean Navy's Ship Salvage Unit members on a rubber boat, foreground, transports the body of a missing sailor off South Korea's Baengnyeong Isl...
 Family members of missing sailors of South Korean naval ship Cheonan on board South Korean navy's rescue vessel Gwangyang visit a site of the sunken ...

South Korea Ship Sinks

South Korean Navy's Ship Salvage Unit members on rubber boats search for missing sailors of the sunken South Korean navy ship Cheonan off South Korea...

South Korea Ship Sinks

South Korean Navy's Ship Salvage Unit members on rubber boats search for sailors of the sunken South Korean navy ship Cheonan off South Korea's Baeng...

South Korea Ship Sinks

Family members of missing sailors of South Korean naval ship Cheonan on board South Korean navy's rescue vessel Gwangyang visit a site of the sunken ...

South Korea Ship Sinks

An unidentified family member of a missing sailor of South Korean naval ship Cheonan weeps as she on board South Korean navy's rescue vessel Gwangyan...

South Korea Ship Sinks

South Korean Navy's Ship Salvage Unit members on rubber boats search for survivors from the sunken South Korean navy ship Cheonan off South Korea's B...

South Korea Ship Sinks

South Korean Navy's Ship Salvage Unit members on a rubber boat, foreground, transports the body of a missing sailor off South Korea's Baengnyeong Isl...

South Korea Ship Sinks

Family members of missing sailors of South Korean naval ship Cheonan on board South Korean navy's rescue vessel Gwangyang visit a site of the sunken ...

South Korea's military ended its underwater search for dozens of sailors missing from a navy ship that sank following a mysterious blast eight days ago, an official said Saturday.
Families of the sailors asked the military to suspend the operation for fear of additional casualties among divers after one died and as chances of finding survivors grew increasingly unlikely after the discovery of the body of one of the sailors.
The decision came hours after divers discovered the body of a senior chief petty officer in the ship's rear area, the first of the 46 missing sailors to be found.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff said it stopped the underwater search out of respect for the families' request and will work to recover the 1,200-ton Cheonan.
Officials have said the salvage effort could last a month.
The vessel sank following an explosion March 26 during a routine patrol. Fifty-eight crew members, including the captain, were rescued soon after.
The ship broke into two pieces after the explosion. No cause has been determined for the blast and, despite some speculation, there has been no confirmation of North Korean involvement in the sinking, which occurred near the countries' disputed sea border in the Yellow Sea off the west coast of the Korean peninsula.
Defense Minister Kim Tae-young has said that a floating mine dispatched from North Korea was one possible explanation for the blast. A mine left over from the 1950-53 Korean War may also have struck the ship, he said.
Other officials say the cause of the explosion can only be determined after the sunken ship is recovered.
The sinking was one of South Korea's worst naval disasters. In 1974, a ship sank off the southeast coast in stormy weather, killing 159 sailors and coast guard personnel. In 1967, 39 sailors were killed by North Korean artillery.
Since the ordeal began, the families of the missing Cheonan sailors have expressed anger at the navy over what they saw as the slow pace of the rescue operation.
Separately, South Korea's coast guard found the bodies of two of nine fishermen whose boat disappeared as it sailed toward fishing grounds after helping to search for debris and possible survivors from the Cheonan.
The bodies of one South Korean and one Indonesian fishermen were discovered Saturday after contact was lost with the boat late Friday, said coast guard official Lee Kyo-min. The search was continuing for another Indonesian and six other South Korean crew members of the fishing boat.
Also, a funeral ceremony was held Saturday for a military diver who died during an attempt earlier in the week to reach the missing Cheonan sailors possibly trapped in the ship.


Updated : 2021-03-01 19:14 GMT+08:00