Survivors say external blast sank S Korean warship

Survivors have said a huge blast from outside tore a S Korean warship apart near the tense N Korean border.

Seoul: Survivors said today a huge blast
from outside tore a South Korean warship apart near the tense
North Korean border, discounting theories that an explosion on
board or a grounding sank the vessel.

US and South Korean teams are preparing to lift the
shattered hull sections from the bed of the Yellow Sea in
search of clues to the disaster which left 46 sailors dead 12
days ago.

The disputed border area was the scene of deadly naval
clashes between the North and South in 1999 and 2002 and a
firefight last November.

Seoul`s Defence Minister has raised the possibility
that a mine or torpedo may have sunk the 1,200-tonne corvette
Cheonan, reportedly earning a rebuke from the Presidential
office over his speculation.

The 58 survivors of the blast had been kept under
wraps at a military hospital just south of Seoul.

But they appeared in hospital pyjamas at a televised
press conference today as the government tried to rebut claims
of a cover-up.

Crewmen described a desperate struggle to escape the
stricken ship as they were plunged into darkness.

"I was preparing to report for duty when there was a
sound of an explosion which hurt my ears and I was thrown in
the air," said Senior Petty Officer Oh Seung-Tak.

"Power was immediately cut. I was hit in the face by a
flying computer and lost consciousness momentarily. When I
regained my senses, everything was dark."


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