Bad weather forces S Korea to suspend search operation

Stormy conditions forced military to suspend search for 46 sailors missing since a mysterious blast blew apart their navy ship last week.

Last Updated: Mar 31, 2010, 17:22 PM IST

Baengnyeong Island (S Korea): Stormy
conditions forced the military to suspend the search for 46
sailors missing since a mysterious blast blew apart their navy
ship last week, officials said today, a day after a diver died
during the rescue mission.

Defense Ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae told reporters
that divers could not go down to the wreckage of the Cheonan
due to the prospect of rain, high winds and a swift current.

Parts of the ship remained moored in the rough Yellow Sea near
Baengnyeong Island, just south of the two Koreas` maritime
border.

Divers managed to get down to the section where sailors
are believed trapped but heard no signs of life inside, the
Joint Chiefs of Staff said. They attempted to get into a door
in the stern yesterday but made little headway, Rear Adm. Lee
Ki-sik said.

Also yesterday, a 53-year-old diver who lost
consciousness during a rescue attempt died and another was
treated for injuries.

The sailors` families gathered at a naval base south of
Seoul cried and yelled as they demanded that authorities step
up the search operation.

An explosion ripped the 1,200-ton ship apart Friday night
during a routine patrol, officials said. Fifty-eight crew
members, including the captain, were rescued.

PTI