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Russian Submarine Accident: Rescue Teams Ponder Salvage Duty

Aired August 21, 2000 - 2:07 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We begin off Russia's northern coast, where efforts to rescue the crew of the sunken submarine Kursk have ended. Earlier today, officials confirmed what had been widely feared: none of the Kursk's 118-member crew survived the ordeal at the bottom of the Barents Sea.

From Moscow, Mike Hanna reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Earlier in the day, the Norwegian divers succeeded in opening an escape hatch at the back of the submarine. They discovered the compartment within to be flooded, which made it probable the whole submarine was filled with water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): According to the picture we get from the Norwegian divers, it complies with our fears about the development of the catastrophe which happened in this submarine. Unfortunately, so far, it has been confirmed.

HANNA: Within hours, the last lingering hopes were dashed. The divers managed to open an internal hatch and confirm that compartments in the aft or rear of the submarine were flooded, ruling out any possibility of survivors.

The commanders in the vessels on the surface now pondering what the next step will be, and the political authorities assure, attempting to comfort those that the 118 men aboard Kursk have left behind.

PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): I know that the government has already allocated finances to relieve the relatives of our sailors. We need to help the local authorities in accommodating the relatives, in arranging medical services, in organizing phone calls, transportation, and so on.

HANNA: But now, a new uncertainty for the relatives who've lost a brother, father, husband or son. Will the bodies of the sailors who went to sea ever be brought ashore?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HANNA: The Russian navy says the recovery operation will continue until each and every one of the 118 bodies aboard is recovered and brought to shore for proper burial. But given the size of the explosion that ripped through the hull of the submarine Kursk, this task would be difficult if not downright impossible.

Mike Hanna, CNN, reporting live from Moscow.

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