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Special Event

First Live Reports from Scene of Submarine That Sank in the Barents Sea

Aired August 17, 2000 - 3:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BOBBIE BATTISTA, CNN ANCHOR: I need to interrupt here quickly to throw to -- we need to throw to our sister network, CNN International. Apparently, there is a Russian broadcast going on at this time, perhaps giving the world a bit more information on the fate of this Russian sub on the bottom of the Barents Sea.

Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): ... information than the one you just read to us. But rescuers and seamen are telling us that the submarine most likely collided with a large-scale object, maybe with some other vessel. I told you already that the front part and the hull are where command center are destroyed. Also, we are about to finish. This is what I would like to say. Another human detail, I know that we are being watched by the relatives and the people of those who are underwater right now, especially people in Savaramorsk (ph), where the submarine is from.

Please trust me, everything possible is being done, and we are trying to tell the truth. We are trying hard to tell you what we can. And also that people, the rescuers, the seamen, the crew of Peter the Great and other ships, that went to perform exercise, and without getting back to their ports, they are doing what they can. People don't even have enough cigarettes. So please, if somebody can help us, please send us cigarettes.

UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR (through translator): So the divers, are they working right now, because we had information that they couldn't work because of strong currents?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): No, the currents are not working right now. They cannot work right now, because the waves are pretty serious, and we have the machines that are underwater. So here is why the divers cannot work, it's almost impossible, so the bottom is very soft with plenty of sand, and the vessel, when its propellers are working, you can't see anything. So the divers underneath the water, when it's 100-meters deep, there is plenty of pressure underneath 100 meters, but the divers are still ready to go there. The people are risking their lives, please understand my correctly.

UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR (through translator): We had information, we had a report that certain latches can be damaged. Are they damaged or not? Or maybe we just can't see them. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I haven't had time to talk to experts in detail about that, about that certain sections, but we talked to rescuers -- I mean, we are going to talk to rescuers, we hope to talk to them a little later, we are going to tell you about it. But most likely, those latches were damaged, and that's why it's hard to get hooked up with the sub.

And one more time we would probably like to see the area where a rescue operation is taking place.

UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR (through translator): And so, if you could tell us about those ships.

BATTISTA: If you've just joined us, what you are listening to here are the first live Russian broadcasts from the scene of that downed submarine in the Barents Sea, and so we're listening in on this to gather as much information as we can on this incident.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): So we are on board Peter the Great. So there's plenty of equipment here. So the command center is beyond those machines that are blocking our view. They have the map, they have everything. So we'll be moving the camera to the right, so this is where the boat -- this is where the sub is, about 800, 900 meters from us. So this is Mikhail Runisky (ph). So some activities are going on there. I can't tell you exactly what's happening, but maybe they are reloading fuel, and those activities are taking place round the clock. By the way, Mikhail Runisky shakes quite a bit when the waves are high enough, but the vessel still go underneath. OK, further on, we see a military ship, most likely another cruise ship or something like that or a battleship.

OK, we'll try to zoom in. OK, that's another sub, that's a Russian sub, and it is signaling something. We do not know exactly what they are. Maybe some Morse code, so the sub is part of the rescue operation as well.

You see more lights on the horizon. That's another ship. That's another rescue ship, which is equipped with cranes. If the decision is made to raise the sub or move it somewhere where the waters are not so deep, it will participate in it. We'll keep moving to the right. We see a tanker, with fuel and that's where the fuel comes to the ships, because their power stations are working nonstop, and so all the equipment needs fuel. And further on, we see two more ships, that's a rescue ship and a military ship. And we are in the center on the flagship, Peter the Great, of the northern fleet of Russia. So the whole operation is coordinated from here.

UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR (through translator): Well, OK, thank you very much. We are waiting for new information, and we just...

BATTISTA: You have been watching a live Russian news program with the first live reports from the scene of that submarine that sank in the Barents Sea. The rescue operation there, of course, continues. It's being made very difficult, though, by continued bad weather and high seas in the area. About the only thing we heard that was new was that the Russian media is now admitting that this submarine accident took place as result of a collision with a large object of some kind.

So we will keep you up to date on this story as new information comes in. We'll take a break here on "TALKBACK LIVE" and continue with Bob Novak and Bill Press right after this.

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