South Korea Saturday raised the bow of a warship that sunk last month, hoping to gain more information on the cause of the disaster amid growing suspicion of North Korean involvement.
Navy salvage workers were preparing to search the bow of the 1,200-tonne Cheonan for the remains of seven missing sailors, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
The rear of the ship had been salvaged last week. Investigators concluded after an initial examination that an exterior explosion caused the sinking, strengthening suspicions that a North Korean sea mine or torpedo may have been responsible.
South Korea’s military suspected immediately after the Cheonan sunk last month that a North Korean torpedo had been responsible, the Yonhap said Thursday, quoting military sources.
The assessment was bolstered by intelligence information that the Stalinist state’s armed forces have intensified “guerilla warfare” training since February 2009. The training was aimed at provoking opponents rather than a direct confrontation, according to the intelligence information.
The 1,200-tonne Cheonan went down March 26 in 45 metres of water near the disputed border with North Korea in the Yellow Sea after witnesses heard an explosion and the ship broke apart.
North Korea rejected any responsibility for the sinking.
Of the 104 crew members aboard, 58 were rescued when the vessel sank, two bodies were found before the salvage operation and 37 bodies were recovered from the wreckage.
The incident occurred in an area where the North and South Korean navies clashed in 1999, 2002 and 2009.