<font color="maroon" size=2><b>[Breaking News]</b></font><br>Body of missing sailor recovered

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[Breaking News]
Body of missing sailor recovered

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천안함 침몰로 실종된 남기훈 상사가 3일 오후 해난구조대(SSU) 요원들에 의해 숨진 채 발견돼 고무보트로 인양되고 있다. 남 상사는 전투복 상의 차림이었다. 시신은 3일 밤 독도함에 옮겨졌다.

Military rescuers have recovered the body of a missing sailor, one of 46 crew members missing after a South Korean Navy vessel sank near the western sea border with North Korea last week, according to defense officials.

The body of Senior Chief Petty Officer Nam Ki-hoon, 35, was recovered at around 6:10 p.m. inside the petty officers’ mess hall in the stern of the 1,200-ton Navy corvette Cheonan, which sank on March 26 in the waters off Baengyeong Island near the inter-Korean maritime border with the North, the officials said.

Out of 104 crew members on board, 46 have been missing since the ship tore in two after an unexplained blast and sank.

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Senior Chief Petty Officer Nam Ki-hoon

The remaining personnel, including the captain, were pulled out alive as the ship sank.

For more than a week, poor weather conditions - rough currents and high waves - have hampered efforts to find the missing sailors.

Han Joo-ho, a 53-year-old Navy warrant officer and a member of the underwater demolition team, died during a rescue operation. His funeral was held earlier today at the Armed Forces Capital Hospital in Seongnam, Gyeonggi.

After two-meter high waves earlier prevented them from going underwater, divers resumed their search in the afternoon.

They reached the entrance of the mess hall in the rear section of the split ship and are expected to recover more bodies there, according to military officials.

Nam worked as a senior member of the sunken ship's fire control team. He is survived by his wife and three sons.

His body is expected to be transferred to a hospital via helicopter, according to the military.

Family members of the missing sailors, now staying together at Second Naval Fleet facilities in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, have clung to hope that their loved ones may have survived inside the Cheonan. They were devastated to hear that Nam was confirmed dead.

"I've held on to a glimmer of hope, but the unthinkable is becoming real," one family member said.

The cause of the explosion on the Cheonan is yet to be determined.

A 2,000-ton floating crane that will be used to lift the corvette from the sea bottom has arrived near Socheong Island, south of where the Cheonan submerged.

During a parliamentary hearing Friday, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said he thinks a torpedo attack is the most likely cause of the sinking, which some had speculated was caused by a mine. He did not say whether he suspected North Korea to be behind the blast.

By Lee Min-yong [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]

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서해 백령도 해상에 침몰한 천안함의 함미 부분을 수색중이던 군은 3일 오후 6시10분께 절단된 원상사식당에서 실종자 남기훈(36) 상사의 시신을 발견, 인양했다고 밝혔다.

천안함에서 사격통제장치를 책임지는 직위인 '사통장'을 맡았던 남 상사의 시신은 독도함으로 옮겨진 뒤 헬기로 국군수도병원으로 이송됐다.

해군 관계자는 "오후 5시47분에 투입된 송하봉 중사 등 해난구조대(SSU) 수색팀 1개조가 함미쪽 절단면 더듬어가며 수색하던 중 원상사 식당으로 추정되는 부분의 절단면에 걸려있는 남 상사의 시신을 발견했다"면서 "발견 당시 시신은 상의는 전투복, 하의는 속옷 차림이었다"고 말했다.

군은 남 상사의 신원을 전투복 상의 명찰로 확인된 것으로 알려졌다.

해군 관계자는 "유가족에 의해 시신이 확인되면 국군수도병원에 안치하고 유가족의 의사를 최대한 존중해 장례절차를 협의할 예정"이라고 설명했다.

그는 "현장 상황을 고려해 탐색.구조작전을 계속해 추가 시신이 발견되면 먼저 구조함에서 독도함으로 이송, 유가족의 확인 절차를 거치게 될 것"이라고 덧붙였다.
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