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<i>Kursk</i> Wreckage Arrives in Port - 2001-10-10

The wreckage of Russia's nuclear-powered submarine Kursk has arrived at a port in northern Russia. The wreckage will be put in dry dock so workers can begin recovering the remains of the crew and removing the ship's two nuclear reactors.

The Kursk arrived at Roslyakovo, near Murmansk, clamped under a giant barge after being towed for two days across the Barents Sea. It was raised from the bottom, 108 meters down, in a 15 hour operation Monday.

Russians officials have been reassuring residents of Roslyakovo, where it will dry dock, that there is no radiation hazard. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said authorities are "absolutely sure that nothing will happen to the reactors." Officials have said they will carry out comprehensive radiation measurements to look for any leaks from the Kursk's two reactors. Nevertheless, local officials drafted a contingency evacuation plan.

Once the reactors are secured, huge floats will be fitted to the submarine in an operation that is expected to take two days. The pontoons will lift the Kursk about seven meters and maneuver it into the dry dock.

That five-day operation is to start at high tide Saturday. Workers can then begin recovering remains, unloading the Kursk's 22 cruise missiles and dismantling the ship.

The ship sank in August 2000, killing all 118 men on board. The bodies of 12 of them were recovered last November. Most of the crew died instantly, but at least 23 were able to move to a rear compartment where, according to letters found on some of the recovered bodies, they survived for several hours.

Many families of Kursk victims opposed raising the submarine, saying the men should be left buried at sea.

The Russian government has said the Kursk had to be raised to avoid damage to the ship's reactors that could cause radiation leaks into the sea. They also want to learn what led to the explosions that sent the Kursk to the bottom.

Relatives of those killed were not invited to watch the Kursk being placed in dry dock. Officials said they were concerned about the emotional impact on the families as the bodies are removed.