I’ve hesitated to write anything on last Friday's sinking of a South Korean navy ship until official word came out from one of the parties involved. Today, South Korea’s defense minister said he is not ruling out the chance that a North Korean mine may have sunk the 1,200 ton missile corvette Cheonan. According to the AP, 58 crewmembers were plucked from the sea and 46 Korean sailors are still missing.
North Korean military officials said the exact cause would not be known until the ship was salvaged. Rough waters hindered rescue efforts, but today divers were able to reach part of the rear hull, where some survivors were thought to be located, but there was no response from hammering on the hull.
The AP story says 3,000 Soviet made mines were planted by North Korea since the 1950s in the disputed waters around the peninsula, though most were cleared. A mine was last found in 1984. Joshua Stanton, over at the One Free Korea site, providing some of the best updates on this emerging story, surmises that its unlikely the mine was a leftover; more likely that it was recently placed.