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Friday, November 03, 2000, updated at 08:49(GMT+8)

Divers Enter Third Compartment of Sunken Russian Submarine

Divers have drilled into the sunken Russian nuclear submarine Kursk's third compartment and entered this section to search for more sailors' bodies Thursday, Russian media reported.

The divers completed cutting a hole in the hard hull of the 3 rd compartment Wednesday night, and the part of the hull that had been cut out, including a piece of a deck cabin, was taken onto the platform Regalia at the salvage site, Vladimir Navrotsky, head of the Russian Northern Fleet press service was quoted as saying.

The divers began examining the compartment with the help of video cameras fixed on special telescopic poles at 7 a.m. Moscow time (0400 GMT) Thursday. If conditions allow, the compartment will be examined by using remotely controlled devices, Navrotsky said.

"The divers have made sure that the 3rd compartment was very badly damaged as a result of a powerful explosion. In the nearest future, the specialists will decide whether to operate in the 3rd compartment or to start cutting a hole in the 4th compartment of the sub," Navrotsky said in an interview with RTR television.

Information about the condition of the 3rd and 4th compartments is extremely important, as technical calculations for the project on lifting the Kursk from the seabed next year will be based on it, he said.

After completing work on the 3rd compartment, similar work will be done on the 4th section, said the Russian maritime design bureau Rubin, the designer of the Kursk.

The work stipulated by the contract will be completed by the middle of the next week if the weather in the disaster area does not take a sharp turn for the worse, it said.

The divers began working on the 3rd compartment after the work in the 9th compartment was completed and the openings in it were sealed.

After the divers finish cutting the opening into the 3rd compartment, they will start examining the situation inside the compartment and search for the remains of the deceased submariners, and will lift them to the surface, according to the bureau.

"The divers have not been assigned any other secret tasks," it added.

Also Thursday, the bodies of three more Kursk crew members have been identified as Lieutenant-Captain Sergei Sadilenko, commander of the 8th compartment, Lieutenant-Captain Rashid Aryapov, commander of the 6th compartment and Senior Sub- Lieutenant Andrei Borisov, from the 8th compartment.

On Tuesday evening, the bodies of another eight submariners were taken from the Regalia platform to a forensic laboratory in Severomorsk, the Northern Fleet base. They all have been identified and their relatives have been informed.

By Wednesday, the names of the first four seamen retrieved from the 9th compartment were made public. So far, 12 bodies of all 118 deceased sailors have been brought to the surface.

The Kursk sank in the Barents Sea during a naval drill on August 12, killing all its 118 crew.

The Northern Fleet command believes the 3rd compartment may hold the bodies of 20-40 sailors who had come from compartments 4 and 5 and were heading for the compartment two in an attempt to use a rescue capsule, which can contain all crew members.

In This Section

Divers have drilled into the sunken Russian nuclear submarine Kursk's third compartment and entered this section to search for more sailors' bodies Thursday, Russian media reported.

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