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Political parties offer condolences to naval disaster victims

All Headlines 11:57 April 26, 2010

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea, April 26 (Yonhap) -- Hundreds of political party leaders and officials paid respects Monday at an altar set up here in memory of the 46 sailors who died in last month's warship sinking, each stressing that the disaster should never be repeated.

South Koreans are in mourning over the sinking of the Cheonan, a 1,200-ton corvette, near the tense inter-Korean border in the Yellow Sea. The bodies of 40 crew members have been found but six others remain unaccounted for. The families of the six earlier agreed with the Navy to list them as killed in action, and a joint funeral for the sailors is scheduled to be held at a naval base here on Thursday.

Chung Mong-joon, head of the ruling Grand National Party, paid tribute with senior party leaders at the alter at the Navy's 2nd Fleet headquarters here.

"(We) will try the best we can," Chung said when a family member of the deceased demanded a thorough investigation into the cause of the disaster.

Chung Sye-kyun, head of the main opposition Democratic Party, came with some 100 party members to pay their respects.

"The entire country mourns together. We will hold those responsible to account and do our best to prevent such an incident from happening again," Chung told the families.

The two parties agreed last week to form a parliamentary committee to investigate the sinking.

Military officials said after examining the broken parts of the Cheonan that the sinking most likely was caused by "bubble jet," a powerful column of water created by an underwater explosion. The assessment deepened suspicions that North Korea may be behind the incident.

The Ministry of Public Administration and Security said it has set up 39 memorial altars nationwide as of Monday, including at Seoul Plaza in front of City Hall, for ordinary citizens to pay their respects.

odissy@yna.co.kr
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