S.Korea confirms high explosive traces on ship wreckage

SEOUL, May 11, 2010 (AFP) - South Korea's defence minister confirmed Monday that traces of high explosive were found on the wreckage of a warship sunk by a mystery blast, indicating it was probably hit by a torpedo.

The 1,200-tonne corvette was split in two near the tense Yellow Sea border with North Korea on March 26. Suspicion has fallen on the North.

Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young, confirming earlier media reports that had been denied by his ministry, said investigators had found traces of RDX explosive, which is widely used in torpedoes.

The discovery means a torpedo was the likeliest cause of the disaster, Kim said without specifying who may have launched it. But "it is too early yet" to draw a clear conclusion, he added.

His ministry said the traces were found in the ship's funnel and in sand collected from the seabed.

Kim also said investigators had found metal fragments that did not appear to come from the ship.

Results of a multinational investigation into the sinking, which killed 46 sailors, are due next week, local media reports say. The South is pondering ways to respond if the North's involvement is proved.

Local media reports said Seoul may also cut down on inter-Korean trade.

Other news