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Russian Sub Divers Resume Search

November 4, 2000

MOSCOW (AP) _ Officials have identified 10 of the 12 bodies recovered from the sunken nuclear submarine Kursk as Russian and Norwegian divers on Saturday resumed their search for more bodies, a navy official said.

The divers Saturday afternoon completed cutting a hole in the inner hull over a compartment that served as the crew’s living quarters, Northern Fleet spokesman Capt. Igor Babenko said.

High winds and snow late Friday forced a temporary halt to divers’ efforts to recover bodies from the Kursk.

``As weather reports predicted, surface conditions were much improved this morning at the site of the disaster,″ allowing the divers to resume their efforts to recover the bodies of the 118 sailors who died when the submarine exploded and sank Aug. 12, navy spokesman Capt. Vadim Serga said earlier.

Babenko said divers would circulate water in the compartment to improve visibility and take water samples to analyze the situation inside the compartment before entering the vessel.

Before work was suspended Friday, Serga said they hoped to find more crew remains in the fourth compartment, which served as living quarters for the crew. The compartment held bunks, a kitchen and a room for meetings and social activity.

Twelve bodies have been recovered so far, all of them from the submarine’s stern. Of the 12, 10 had been identified as of Saturday, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. The identities of the two others was expected to be established later Saturday, the news agency said.

At least 23 sailors survived the initial explosion in the submarine’s stern, as indicated by a letter found on the body of Lt. Dmitry Kolesnikov.

The cause of the Kursk’s sinking remains unknown. Russian officials favor a theory that a collision with a foreign submarine set off the powerful blasts. But others have said the most likely reason was a torpedo exploding in its tube because of a technical malfunction.

A state commission of inquiry into the sinking of the Kursk will convene in Moscow on Wednesday, the Interfax news agency reported. It said that the diving operation will be completed by the end of next week.

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