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(LEAD) U.S.-educated scientist named to jointly head sunken ship probe

All Headlines 17:10 April 11, 2010

(ATTN: UPDATES with US experts' arrival, other details in last three paras)

SEOUL, April 11 (Yonhap) -- The Defense Ministry named a renowned Harvard-educated scientist Sunday to co-head an investigation into last month's sinking of a South Korean navy ship.

Yoon Duk-yong, a professor emeritus at KAIST, a top South Korea science university, will lead the investigation, jointly with a three-star military general, to determine what caused the 1,200-ton corvette Cheonan to break in half and sink on March 26.

Yoon, 70, earned his masters and doctorate degrees in applied physics from Harvard University.

Survivors said the ship sank after a mysterious explosion tore it apart near the Yellow Sea border with North Korea. Government officials have been cautious about raising Pyongyang's possible involvement, saying they would look into all possibilities.

Two of the ship's 104 crew members were found dead, 44 others remain missing and the 58 others were rescued. The sinking is the worst disaster in South Korea's naval history.

The military has been struggling to pull the sunken ship out of the water for investigation.

About 30 civilian experts will take part in a 130-member investigation team, which will be established this week, the ministry said.

South Korea has also been asking foreign countries to participate in the investigation to ensure its transparency. The United States, Britain, Australia and Sweden have so far expressed their willingness to join the probe.

On Sunday, seven U.S. naval experts arrived in South Korea for the investigation while three Australian experts are due later this week, the ministry said. Britain and Australia are expected to provide their participation plans later this week, it said.

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