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South Korea: External explosion sunk ship

SEOUL, April 16 (UPI) -- South Korea said an external explosion likely caused the sinking of the navy ship that went down near North Korean waters last month.

"The possibility of an external explosion is far higher than that of an internal explosion," Yoon Duk-yong, an investigator tasked with examining the recovered wreck, said at a news conference.

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The South Korean gunboat with a crew of 104 sank last month near the North Korean sea border after a blast rocked the vessel. A total of 38 people are known to have died and eight sailors are unaccounted for.

There was speculation that the ship was either hit by a Korean War-era mine or a torpedo fired from a North Korean vessel.

Investigators are examining the aft section of the wreck, which was recovered from the seabed this week.

North and South Korea have repeatedly clashed over the disputed sea zone where the incident happened. Since the start of this year, both nations in what they said were military drills fired artillery into the sea near the maritime border.

When South Korea and the United States launched joined military drills this month, North Korea announced it would boost its maritime defenses.

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