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Investigators Work on Kursk in Dry Dock - 2001-10-27


Investigators continue working on the wreck of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk, now in dry dock in northern Russia after it was raised from the sea bottom earlier this month.

Forensic experts have pulled more than a dozen bodies of crewmembers from inside the submarine after it was drained of seawater.

Most of the bodies were found in the ninth compartment at the stern of the sub, where 23 crewmen are known to have gathered after the sub sank in August of last year.

Military specialists are also preparing to start the dangerous task of removing 22 supersonic missiles from the sub.

The specialists will cut all cables and weld shut openings in the compartment around the Kursk's two nuclear reactors. This is a procedure used when dismantling submarines, which have been decommissioned.

So far, officials say, the radiation level is normal near the reactors.

Meanwhile investigators led by Russia's prosecutor general are also working inside the Kursk. They're searching for clues as to what caused the two onboard explosions that sent the sub to the bottom.

Most experts believe a torpedo misfired during military exercises and caused a second, massive explosion. But some Navy officers insist the Kursk must have collided with another submarine, perhaps even a foreign one.

Establishing the exact cause may have to wait until next year when the shattered front section with its torpedo bay is scheduled to be recovered from the sea floor.

For safety reasons, divers sawed that section off before the rest of the 18-thousand-ton sub was brought to the surface using a giant salvage barge from the Netherlands.

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