Page last updated at 09:33 GMT, Saturday, 24 April 2010 10:33 UK

South Korea raises bow of sunken warship


The Cheonan was split in half and sunk by an unexplained explosion

South Korea has raised the front half of a warship which sank last month near the disputed sea border with the North.

An unexplained explosion split the ship in half and it sank with the loss of 46 sailors.

Investigators have already said the damage appeared to have been caused by an external blast, feeding suspicions North Korea may have been involved.

South Korea has avoided blaming the North outright and Pyongyang has denied any role in the sinking of the vessel.

The front half of the Cheonan, a 1,200-tonne corvette, was raised by a giant crane and placed on a barge to be towed to a naval port for inspection.

The stern was lifted out of the sea last week.

The body of one missing sailor was found in the bow wreckage and it will be searched for the bodies of six of its crew who are still missing.

Fifty-eight sailors were rescued after the explosion on 26 March.

'Resolute' response

Military sources cited by South Korea's Yonhap news agency said there was more evidence from the bow section that the explosion that sank the ship was external.

Part of the bottom of the front half appeared to have been blown off diagonally, the unnamed sources said.

If the two halves of the ship were fitted together, the centre of the bottom of the ship would be shaped like an inverted V, they said.

The ship's smoke stack and its radar mast, both located at the centre of the ship, were also reported to be missing.

Australian, US and Swedish investigators are helping the South Koreans with their investigation into the cause of the sinking.

Tensions have mounted over the incident, with Pyongyang accusing Seoul of "deliberately linking" it to the sinking.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has vowed to respond "resolutely" to the sinking and bolster the military, though he has not accused North Korea.

The two countries are still technically at war since the 1950-53 war ended without a peace treaty. There have been three previous naval clashes in the same area as the Cheonan went down, off the west coast of the peninsula.

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