North Korean sailors killed when ship sinks during 'combat duties': State media

This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 2, 2013 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (front right) visiting the cemetery of fallen fighters of the KPA Navy Unit 790 at an undisclosed loca
This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 2, 2013 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (front right) visiting the cemetery of fallen fighters of the KPA Navy Unit 790 at an undisclosed location in North Korea. A number of North Korean sailors were killed when a warship sank during "combat duties" last month, a state newspaper has reported in an unusual admission by the secretive state. -- PHOTO: AFP 

SEOUL (Reuters) - At least 19 North Korean sailors were killed when a naval vessel sank during "combat duties" off the east coast last month, North and South Korean media said.

South Korean media said the ship sank during a drill, killing "scores".

Photos released by North Korea's KCNA state news agency showed leader Kim Jong Un laying flowers at the foot of a memorial to the dead, encircled by at least 19 graves emblazoned with the faces of the sailors.

"Submarine chaser No. 233 fell while performing combat duties in mid-October," KCNA said.

The article did not specify what operation it was undertaking.

South Korea's Choson Ilbo newspaper said the ship sank during a drill, killing scores of sailors, and that two vessels were involved, quoting an unnamed military source.

The two Koreas remain technically at war since the 1950-1953 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty. North Korea conducted its third nuclear test this year in defiance of United Nations resolutions, drawing condemnation from around the world.