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Saturday, 23 March, 2002, 15:54 GMT
Last farewell for Kursk victims
Captain Lyachin's widow and son and an unidentified man holding his portrait
Captain Lyachin's body was identified last week
The captain and six other crew members of the stricken Russian submarine, the Kursk, have been buried in St Petersburg.

Captain Gennady Lyachin was among the 118 people who died when the nuclear submarine was lost in the Barents Sea in August 2000.

Captain Lyachin's widow and son
Hundreds paid their last respects to the Kursk victims
The Commander-in Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, hailed the submariners as heroes who had prevented atomic disaster.

Prosecutors concluded their painstaking identification work last week with the identification of Captain Lyachin and the six other sailors.

Three of 118 bodies remain unidentified - they are believed to be unrecoverable.

'Heroes'

The last funeral service for Kursk victims was broadcast nationally on television.

Russian warships were ordered to lower their flags to half mast as a sign of respect, while a guard of honour fired a gun salute during the service.

"Today we say goodbye to the heroes of our fleet," Admiral Kuroyedov said before hundreds of sailors and relatives of the victims.

"At the cost of their own lives, the commander and his team saved hundreds of thousands of other people's lives in northern Russia and in the Scandinavian countries by preventing a possible explosion of the nuclear reactor."

Russian officials have yet to release a final conclusion on what caused the initial explosion which led to the sinking of the Kursk.

A preliminary report has suggested that a defective torpedo was to blame for the tragedy.

The bulk of the Kursk was raised last October. The Russian Navy now plans to bring to shore the badly damaged bow of the vessel which is lying on the sea floor.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Neil Ross
"The sinking of the nuclear submarine led to a nationwide outpouring of soul-searching and grief"
See also:

15 Mar 02 | Europe
Russian navy to raise Kursk bow
18 Feb 02 | Europe
Kursk inquiry minister demoted
23 Jan 02 | Europe
Analysis: Kursk cover-up
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