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SEOUL, South Korea—An external explosion most likely sank a South Korean navy ship that split apart three weeks ago, an investigator said Friday, amid concerns about possible North Korea involvement in the disaster.
A team of 38 investigators, including U.S. navy officials, conducted a preliminary investigation of the ship's stern after lifting it out of the water.
"There is a high possibility of an external explosion rather than an internal explosion," chief investigator Yoon Duk-yong told reporters Friday. He said further analysis is needed to determine the exact cause of the blast, after salvaging the ship's other wreckage.
An "external explosion" probably sank the South Korean naval vessel which went down near North Korean waters last month, an investigator says
Bubble Jet from Torpedo 'Likely' Cause of Shipwreck .
After an initial examination of the stern of the Navy corvette Cheonan on Thursday, the military tentatively concluded that the corvette had not been hit directly by a torpedo but broke in two due to a bubble jet created by an underwater explosion. The stern was raised 20 days after the corvette sank in the West Sea on March 26.
In an initial examination of the Cheonan's stern, South Korean and U.S. investigators found no traces showing that the hull had been hit directly by a torpedo," a senior source at the Defense Ministry said. "Instead, they found traces proving that a powerful explosion caused possibly by a torpedo had occurred underwater. The explosion created a bubble jet that eventually generated an enormous shock wave and caused the ship to break in two.
Bubble jet effect.
If the mine detonates in the water some distance from the ship, the bubble jet effect happens. The explosion creates a "hole" in the water, and due to the difference in pressure, this sphere will collapse from the bottom. This creates the famous "pillar" of water that can go well over a hundred meters into the air.
The damage to the ship is heavy. The water breaks a meter wide hole straight through the ship, flooding one or more compartments. The structural damage might break the ship apart. The crew in the areas hit by the water pillar are usually killed instantly. Other damage is usually limited