March 26th, 2010
08:08 PM ET

Report: South Korean navy ship has sunk near N. Korea

[Updated, 8:07 p.m.] Read the full CNN.com story

[Updated at 1:07 p.m.] The Yonhap News Agency is reporting that the South Korean navy ship has sunk, according to government officials.

[Updated at 12:26 a.m.] South Korea's president has told his military to focus on rescuing sailors from one of their navy ships sinking in the Yellow Sea near North Korea, aids told the Yonhap News Agency.

Yonhap reported 58 sailors had already been rescued. Navy vessels and helicopters were rescuing crew members, some of whom reportedly jumped into the sea after the blast, an official told South Korea's Korean Broadcasting System. The ship, the Cheonan, was patrolling southwest of the island around 9:45 p.m. when the explosion took place, a military official told KBS.

The official said the Sockcho, another South Korean navy vessel patrolling nearby, fired at unidentified ships north of the area. U.S. military officials told CNN a South Korean vessel has sunk.

The South Korean government issued a statement saying the reason for the incident remains unclear.

"For now, it is not certain whether North Korea is related" to the incident, South Korean spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye told Yonhap.

While the rescues continue, officials were holding an emergency meeting of ministers handling security-related matters, but the focus remained on rescuing South Koreans on the ship, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

"Finding the truth [behind the incident] is important, but saving our soldiers is more important," the president was quoted as saying, according to Yonhap.

North Korea has said recently it is bulking up its defenses in response to recent joint South Korean-U.S. military drills, Yonhap reported. The news agency also quoted South Korean military officials saying North Korea conducted dozens of artillery firing drills Friday.

[Posted at 11:01 a.m.] A South Korean navy ship was sinking in the Yellow Sea near North Korea early Saturday, and the navy was shooting at an unidentified ship toward the north, Yonhap News Agency reported.

It was initially unclear whether the two incidents were related.

Yonhap quoted Navy officials saying Friday that a ship carrying 104 crew members was sinking off the Seoul-controlled island of Baengnyeong.

The 1,500-ton ship was sinking between 9 and 10 p.m. near the island, but the cause of the incident was not immediately known, officials said.

A rescue operation was under way. There were no immediate reports of casualties, but some sort of explosion occurred in the rear of the ship,  officials told Yonhap.

As a result of the report, South Korean government officials held an emergency meeting of ministers handling security-related matters, officials told the news agency.

There were no further details about the reported shooting.

soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. paul

    58 has been rescued.

    March 26, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. lynn

    Iran, north korea,iraq,affigstan,lawyers and someone voted in OBAMA!Do you miss me yet takes on new meanings

    March 26, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  3. Stigmatador

    They should just go in and take the North out.
    I am tired of all this talkin' and negotiatin'.

    Kill 'em and be done with it.

    The world will be a better place anyway...

    Too bad all the progressives aren't in North Korea...

    March 26, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. dave

    So which was it? An accident or a shooting incident.

    "...but the cause of the accident was not immediately known, officials said."

    "...but some sort of explosion occurred in the rear of the ship..."

    "There were no further details about the shooting report."

    I think you need to clarify this portion of this story.

    "As a result of the report, South Korean government officials held an emergency meeting of ministers handling security-related matters"

    The report mentioned that lead to the emergency meeting. What was it? That an explosion occurred? The fact that something blew up changes it from an accident into a confrontation between the South Koreans and some other force? Or was it something else?

    March 26, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. Tim Meehan

    Impressively quick fix, but still not clear. What happened after 10.00pm?

    March 26, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. fred

    3 posibilities :

    – Vessel hit by a mine
    – Vessel hit by torpedo fired by SS or boat
    – Expplosion in the mahine room

    In all cases there are great chances that NK is behind , we can exclude a war.

    March 26, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. paul

    Blue House stated that there was no engagement with N. Korea.

    March 26, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. paul

    Korea law enforcement declared the second highest alert to prepare any possibilities related with the sank vessel.

    March 26, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ed

    People!!!! Get real – all the news agencies are trying to get the information out as quickly as possible. Not even the South Korean News agencies are clear. It is past midnight in Korea. It is dark and the weather is cold. Reports are sketchy. What is known is that a South Korean ship fired at an unidentified vessel to the north of the island shortly before the same South Korean ship (a patrol craft) endured an explosion of currently unknown origin. The ship is or HAS sunk, and only about half of the crew are confirmed safe at this time. I am IN Korea. As I write this, it is about 1:30am on Saturday morning. The South Korean government is still trying to determine the exact cause. Once they know, there will certainly be more accurate reporting. More to follow, probably.

    March 26, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. richie

    potentialy a very serious situation for all of us... and certainly for the poor Korean people... they deserve and will get our suport but at what cost... lets hope the rescue mission saves lives...as for the Toyota comment... how small minded can one get...peoples lives are at stake here....

    March 26, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. 72

    What's next? Will North Korea fire missle toward Seoul? When North Korea test fired long range missle and claimed to have orbited Satellite, South Korea said it could be failed attempt to launch satellite. A few days ago, news media reported that the North Korea "threatens nuclear strike on South Korea" and that it is tactic used by the North Korea frequently to gain bargaining position. Is South Korea going to reward them for killing their sailors? I hope not.

    March 26, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jack

    finally, N.Korea has started the war .... it had been quiet for a long time
    lets see and wait .....

    March 26, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bryan

    wow there is laot of dumb people. S Korea ship 1 had a explosion, and started sinking. S Korea ship 2 saw a unidentified vessal and stoot at it. there you go. easy.. read the new before you start getting confused about stuff..

    March 26, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lemsach

    Will this be coved up as a accident?
    Or World War 3 on it's way?
    China beating U.S. the stocks
    but our ponsie sceeming country
    will be on top soon again!

    March 26, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Grue62

    So a North Korean submarine launched a torpedo which has sunk/is sinking a South Korean Frigate, rescued 58 sailors (crew # ?) and the top brass in SK is emergency meeting? Is there going to be a war? More importantly has CNN made a flying graphic and suspenseful music for the Crisis in the Yellow Sea?! Lastly (and least importantly) has there been any fact-checking, or did a Frigate have an internal mishap?

    March 26, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6