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N. Korea admits submarine wrecked while training

TOKYO, June 23 Kyodo

A submarine ''seems to be wrecked while in training'' because of mechanical trouble, a North Korean news agency reported Tuesday in Pyongyang's first admission a submarine drifting in the Japan Sea was North Korean.

''Now the life or death of the crew is unknown,'' the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in the report monitored in Tokyo.

The agency said the submarine last contacted its home base at 2 p.m. Saturday that it had ''trouble in nautical observation instruments, oil pressure systems, and submerging and surfacing machines'' while on a training mission on the East Sea off the North Korean coastal town Kosong near the border with South Korea.

''The submarine seems to be wrecked in ocean currents and wave,'' the agency said. ''An appropriate organ...is now searching for the submarine and its crew.''

North Korean news media had remained silent despite South Korean reports about the submarine incidents since Monday.

South Korean vessels found the submarine drifting around 4:30 p.m. Monday in South Korean waters in the Sea of Japan some 18 kilometers east of Sokcho in Kangwon Province, and are towing it to a naval base in the eastern port of Tonghae.

Seoul criticized Pyongyang on Tuesday for violating the armistice accord that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War by sending the vessel into its waters.

Antisubmarine helicopters, surveillance planes, and warships were immediately dispatched to the scene after learning of the stranded submarine, a South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff officer said.

The 70-ton Yugo-class submarine, measuring 18 meters long and 3 meters wide, is believed to have a crew capacity of five or six, though the number of people on board has yet to be confirmed, the officer said.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Jun 29, 1998
Words:290
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