114 Kursk Submariners Identified
MOSCOW (AP) _ Investigators and grieving relatives have identified the remains of all but four of the 118 sailors who died when the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk sank to the Barents Sea floor after a devastating explosion, officials said Saturday.
The remains of the submarine’s commander, Capt. Gennady Lyachin, were identified Friday, the last to be matched with the names of victims, officials in the Military Prosecutor General’s office told Russian news agencies. Four bodies have not been retrieved.
The Kursk sank on August 12, 2000, after a series of blasts ripped through its bow during naval exercises. All 118 men on board were killed.
Twelve bodies were taken out of the Kursk during an underwater operation in 2000, and the rest of the remains have been retrieved since the submarine _ minus its shattered bow _ was raised and brought to dry dock last year.
Russian authorities had initially said they expected many of the bodies were obliterated by the explosions and could not be retrieved.
``The results of the investigation have surpassed all our expectations,″ the chief prosecutor of the navy’s Northern Fleet, Vladimir Mulov, said in televised comments, apparently referring to the number of bodies investigators were able to identify.
Lyachin’s remains were identified by his widow, Irina, said Leonid Troshin, chief spokesman of the Military Prosecutor General’s office.
Mulov said four bodies were unaccounted for, possibly lost at sea in the explosions or still in the Kursk’s bow. The navy plans to send divers to retrieve fragments of the bow from the sea floor this summer, hoping they will provide more clues about the cause of the disaster.
Russian officials have said that the Kursk sank after a practice torpedo filled with unstable fuel detonated, sparking the blasts that tore through the bow. But they have not issued a final conclusion on what caused the initial explosion.