Posted April. 08, 2010 06:49,
Surviving crewmen of the sunken naval patrol ship Cheonan unanimously say the explosion that sank the ship lasted for one or two seconds, a joint investigation team of military and civil experts said yesterday.
At a military hospital in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, the team also announced that the explosion or impact that sank the Cheonan occurred at 9:22 p.m. March 26 as concluded by the Defense Ministry.
The 57 survivors of the Cheonan later held their first interview and confirmed the teams announcements.
The military also released images recorded by thermal observation devices. The images showed that the ships stern sank in under a minute after the hull was split in half.
A member of the joint investigation team said, Since the images were automatically recorded by unmanned devices, we recognized the existence of the images a few days after the incident. The rumor that the images were initially concealed and released later is completely untrue.
Team spokesman Mun Byeong-ok said investigators eventually concluded that the incident happened at 9:22 p.m. since the Cheonan disappeared from the Korea Naval Tactical Data System, which automatically records a ships location, at 9:21.58 p.m.
Shortly after the shock, the power went out and the system was suspended on the Cheonan, Mun said. Considering factors including that the seismic wave was recorded at 9:21:59 p.m., we can conclude that the Cheonan sank at 9:22 p.m.
The investigators also said the Cheonan was operating normally on a routine mission shortly before sinking. A lieutenant also reported the incident to the 2nd Naval Fleet on his mobile phone at 9:28 p.m.
At the news conference, the surviving crewmen were mostly clad in hospital gowns. They said, We heard two ear-splitting explosions but there was no smell of gunpowder," adding, "The ship had no defects such as water leakage.
The body of another Cheonan crewman was found yesterday. The Navy found the body of Senior Chief Petty Officer Kim Tae-seok in the stern of the sunken ship at 4 p.m.
The Navy said Kims body was found by private divers in salvation operations and recovered by ten divers belonging to the ship salvage unit. Kim began working on the Cheonan from April 2008. He was commissioned as a naval petty officer in charge of gas turbines in 1993.