|SLUG: 2-268435 Russia / Sub (L-Update)||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
TITLE=RUSSIA SUB (L-UPDATE)
/// EDS: UPDATES 2-268419 WITH BODIES REMOVED FROM SUB ///
INTRO: Three bodies have been recovered from the wreck of the sunken nuclear submarine Kursk. A Russian diver entered the vessel after a laborious process of cutting through the double hull. Larry James has the latest from Moscow.
TEXT: The Russian diver pulled the bodies out of the wrecked submarine several hours after penetrating the vessel and beginning the laborious task of searching through the flooded compartments. Russian Navy officials say that at least seven crew members were assigned to work stations in the immediate area of where the diver entered the vessel.
The recovery crew was given the go ahead to enter the sub after spending the day clearing away debris and covering jagged and torn metal that would could have torn the divers' suits. The wreck sits some 100 meters below the surface, and the divers are having to deal with strong currents, limited visibility and debris. Only Russian divers are being allowed inside the Kursk, while their Norwegian colleagues assist them from a diving chamber, which has been lowered to the wreck site. Navy officials say they do not expect to be able to recover all 118 bodies, believing that as many as two thirds of them may have been destroyed in the powerful explosions that sank the submarine.
The operation is continuing for now, but navy officials say it may have to be halted because of worsening weather in the area, which is located some 150 kilometers off Russia's northwest coast.
Two widows of officers who died on the Kursk traveled with Navy officials to the wreck site on Wednesday and conducted a brief ceremony there - scattering flowers in the sea. (Signed)