(LEAD) Military continues salvage operation for North Korean rocket debris

The South Korean military continued its operation Saturday to search and salvage the wreckage of a North Korean rocket that crashed into the Yellow Sea earlier this week.

Deep-sea divers from the Sea Salvage and Rescue Unit were deployed to the remote sea, 200 kilometers west of the western island of Eocheong, military officials said.

The North launched what it claimed to be a satellite-carrying rocket Wednesday. But it crashed into the sea due to the abnormal starting of the second-stage engine, the North's state media said.

The salvage operation involves divers attaching high-strength ropes to the 15-meter-long debris, which sank to a depth of 75 meters on the seafloor. Three salvage ships have been deployed to the area for the operation.

The space vehicle, named Chollima-1, is estimated to have a length ranging from 29 to 30 meters.

The debris spotted by the South Korean military Wednesday is believed to be the second and third stages of the launch vehicle.

Officials said there is a possibility of finding the military reconnaissance satellite, Malligyong-1, mounted on the rocket.

In a text message sent to reporters at around 5:30 p.m., the military said it will wrap up the operation due to high ocean current conditions and resume Sunday.

"Depending on the progress of the work, we could salvage part of the space launch vehicle as early as tomorrow," it said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency