03/30/2010, 00.00
KOREA
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South Korea continues the search for its missing sailors, puts military on alert

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
Relatives blame the Government of South Korea for the sinking of ROKS Cheonan. North Korea warns of repercussions if visits to the DMZ continue.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – An old North Korean mine, a leftover from the Korean War (1950-1953), might be the cause of the explosion that sank ROKS Cheonan, the South Korean corvette that went to the bottom last Friday, raising the spectre of a naval confrontation with Pyongyang, Defence Minister Kim Tae-young said. Meanwhile, the search for the missing sailors continues as the families mourn their loss. A ray of hope was raised when the ship's rear segment was found; it holds watertight cabins with oxygen estimated to last up to 69 hours.

The Blue House ordered the country’s military to maintain their readiness, waiting to see what the North might do. “Neither the government nor the Defence Ministry has ever said there was no possibility of North Korea's involvement,” Defence Minister Kim Tae-young said.

On Monday, families of the missing sailors arrived at the wreck site. Many of them accuse the Navy of not keeping the ship well maintained. Others accuse the government of deliberating lying, withholding the truth about the death of their loved ones.

US officials in South Korea de facto ruled out a North Korean involvement. They said that US forces were monitoring North Korean naval movements but had nothing unusual to report.

North Korea instead warned the United States and South Korea of “unpredictable incidents” if tourists were allowed to visit the DMZ, the demilitarised zone that separates the two Koreas along the 38th parallel.

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