SEOUL – Ã¢â‚¬â€œ A South Korean navy ship carrying 104 people sunk near the North Korea border on Friday after an explosion onboard, Yonhap news agency reported.
The news agency also said that the navy vessel had fired shots towards an unidentified ship.
South Korea’s military said a ship from its navy was sinking in the Yellow Sea but could not immediately confirm any firing.
MBC television said about half the crew had so far been saved.
The Seoul government convened an emergency security meeting after the incident off the Seoul-controlled island of Baengnyeong.
The 1,500-ton vessel sank between 9:00 p.m. (1200 GMT) and 10:00 p.m. near the island but the cause of the incident was unknown, the Navy said. A rescue operation was under way.
Yonhap news agency quoted officials as saying there was an explosion in the rear of the ship but the cause was unknown.
The disputed border in the Yellow Sea was the scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999 and 2002.
Earlier Friday, North Korea’s military accused the United States and South Korea of trying to topple the Pyongyang regime and said it was ready to launch nuclear attacks to frustrate any provocations.
The military General Staff cited a South Korean newspaper report as evidence of “desperate moves of the US imperialists and the South Korean puppet warmongers” for regime change.
“Those who seek to bring down the system in the DPRK (North Korea)… will fall victim to the unprecedented nuclear strikes of the invincible army,” a General Staff spokesman told the official Korean Central News Agency.