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Most of sub crew may have died in explosian.

A British rescue team is expected to dive on the stricken Russian nuclear submarine Kursk tomorrow after setting sail from Norway in a desperate mission to aid 118 officers and men trapped on the sea bed.

Last night the supply vessel, the Normand Pioneer, which has been loaded with specialist equipment including the LR5 mini-sub and decompression chambers, was heading for the Barents Sea, where the Kursk is stranded on the bottom in about 350 feet of Arctic water.

Commander Mike Finney of the Royal Navy said: 'We are moving everything we can as quickly as we can towards the scene of the accident.'

But even as the rescue experts worked frantically to get to the aid of the stricken submarine, it emerged that the 14,000-ton vessel may have suffered much greater damage than first thought.

And there were conflicting opinions about the fate of the crew.

One expert said that up to a third of the sailors may have been killed by an explosion which caused the submarine to sink.

Mr Paul Beaver, spokesman for Jane's Information Group, said: 'From what we know now about the extent of the damage I think it is unlikely that all the crew survived.

'It could be that 30% to 40% of the crew may have survived the initial explosion if it did rip open the first two compartments.'

He said the explosion could have caused damage all the way back to the control room.

Meanwhile Admiral Alexandr Poboi, deputy chief of the navy staff, in Brussels for talks on the rescue, said the men on the Kursk could survive about two or three weeks.

Full report/Page 11
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 18, 2000
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