South Korean Defense Minister Gives Torpedo as Likeliest Cause of Ship Sinking

The Cheonan sinking's lead investigator said his team had concluded that ship was torn apart by a "non-contact" explosion from a device that didn't touch the vessel itself.

A salvage crew on Saturday recovered the ship's severed bow after raising the stern on April 15.

Evidence collected so far indicates a torpedo hit the Cheonan, killing 46 sailors, and suspicion is growing that it was launched from a small North Korean submarine. That scenario would make it the most serious attack on the South Korean military since the peninsula's war ended in a truce in 1953.

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.