David Williams and Paul Bentley
UK Daily Mail 
March 27, 2010
Hopes faded this morning for 46 South Korean sailors still missing 12 hours after an explosion sank one of the country’s naval vessels.
Navy and coastguard ships are combing the waters near South Korea’s Baengnyeong Island where the 1,200-ton Cheonan went down in bad weather during a routine patrolling mission.
An explosion tore a hole into the Cheonan’s rear hull yesterday, shutting off the engine, wiping out the power and taking the ship to the bottom a little over three hours later.
But senior government officials have all but ruled out the chance that North Korea was involved in the sinking.
‘Given the investigations by government ministries so far, it is the government’s judgment that the incident was not caused by North Korea, although the reason for the accident has not been determined yet,’ a senior government spokesman said.
Defence ministry sources said they were investigating whether it was the result of an explosion on board the vessel.