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Tuesday, 22 August, 2000, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Kursk bodies recovery planned
Seaway Eagle
Divers have been working from the Seaway Eagle
Russia has asked a company operating from Scotland to consider plans to recover the 117 bodies from the submarine Kursk.

Stolt Offshore, which sent its Seaway Eagle diving support vessel from Aberdeen to the Barents Sea, is looking at ways of retrieving the corpses.

Spokesman Julian Thomson said the firm had been requested to study possibilities for entering the sunken submarine.

"The Russians asked us to help recover the bodies and, closely with them, we will now be working on the feasibility of such a mission," he added.

David Russell and his team pay their respects to the lost crew
David Russell (left) and his team pay their respects to the lost crew
Experts said there would be no swift end to the relatives' mourning, as the task of recovering the bodies from the hull of the submarine could take up to two months.

The operation is unlikely to begin for another 10 days at least.

Divers from the Seaway Eagle were involved in the mission which confirmed that the crew were dead and that the Kursk was entirely flooded.

Television pictures showed the ship leaving the scene of the disaster on Tuesday.

Another British part of the Anglo-Norwegian rescue effort, the British Royal Navy team and its LR5 rescue craft, is preparing to leave the scene on the Norman Pioneer ship.

The team, based in Renfrew, Scotland, did not participate in the operation. They are expected to be back in Britain towards the end of August.

The LR5 leader, Commodore David Russell, cast a floral tribute into the sea over the Kursk.

Kursk timeline
12 August: Sinks in Barents Sea during exercises
14 August: Russian navy inspects stricken sub
15 August: Attempts to attach rescue capsule fail
16 August: Russians report no signs of life in the Kursk. Accept help from the West
17 August: British and Norwegian craft readied for rescue attempt
19 August: British and Norwegian teams arrive at the scene
20 August: Norwegian divers examine the Kursk
21 August: Divers enter flooded sub
"I want to take the opportunity to express our deepest sympathy with everyone associated with the Kursk, particularly the families," he said later.

"I was very pleased with the speed with which we responded. It was a thoroughly professional effort."

He did not criticise the Russians for delays in rescue operations.

Mr Putin has been castigated for not immediately accepting the offers of foreign help that poured in as soon as Russia announced the Kursk was in trouble.

The British team was put on stand-by on Monday, 14 August, Russia did not accepted that it needed foreign help until two days later, when the LR5 was flown out of Prestwick, Ayrshire.

The Russian navy said the Kursk's nuclear reactors were shut down immediately after the catastrophic explosion 10 days ago but experts have warned of the danger of radioactive leaks.

It now concedes that more than half the crew of Russia's most modern nuclear submarine apparently died in the first minutes of the disaster on 12 August.

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See also:

22 Aug 00 | Europe
Russia mourns Kursk crew
22 Aug 00 | Europe
Kursk's final hours
17 Aug 00 | Scotland
Rescue team's global role
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