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Friday, 25 May, 2001, 22:47 GMT 23:47 UK
Russia opens Kursk salvage site
New Russian Kursk website
The new Kursk website: The disaster is still shrouded in mystery
Russia has launched a website to cover the raising of the sunken nuclear submarine Kursk, following fierce media criticism of the authorities' handling of the disaster.

Senior Russian naval and government personnel have taken part in an online discussion about the operation, which is scheduled for 15 September.

The Kursk plunged to the bottom of the Barents Sea when two explosions ripped through it last August, killing all 118 men on board.

Map of the area

A Russian Government spokesman, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, promised there would be full media access to the operation.

Russian officials came under a torrent of criticism last year for failing to give accurate information about the Kursk disaster and for delaying a request for foreign help.

"In the information field, many things were unfavourable last year, but we have tried to learn lessons from it and are trying to make information on the operation as open and objective as possible for everyone," Mr Yastrzhembsky said.

Click here for diagram of salvage operation

Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said the salvage operation could help explain what crippled the Kursk.

"What was the cause? The unstable state of the torpedo itself or something that happened as a result of a collision?" Mr Klebanov said at a media briefing. "Maybe we will find out after we see the first compartment."

Risky operation

Russian officials admit that raising the submarine could be dangerous because it has several dozen functioning missiles and torpedoes on board.

Norwegian divers helped retrieve bodies from the Kursk
Norwegian divers helped retrieve bodies from the Kursk

The most dangerous front section housing the arsenal will be sliced off first by deep-sea divers and left on the seabed.

Russia has signed a contract with a Dutch company - Mammoet Transport BV - to raise the Kursk.

Mammoet is a major operator of heavy-lift cranes, but has no experience in raising vessels.

A dozen bodies have already been retrieved by Norwegian divers.

But the rest of the crew, as well as two nuclear reactors and roughly 22 missiles are still on the 14,000-tonne submarine, which lies at a depth of 100 metres.

Some relatives of the victims do not want the remaining bodies brought to the surface, while environmentalists fear the submarine will break as it is lifted, causing a leak of radiation.


Kursk salvage diagram
A barge will raise the Kursk using steel ropes attached to hydraulic lifting devices

Click here to return

The Kursk submarine accident

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15 May 01 | Europe
12 Jan 01 | Europe
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