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Breaking News

Russians Launch Effort to Rescue Stranded Submarine Crew

Aired August 14, 2000 - 3:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, I'm Natalie Allen at CNN Center Atlanta.

A story we're keeping a close eye on, Russian officials have launched a rescue effort to try and save the crew of a stranded nuclear submarine in the Arctic.

CNN's Steve Harrigan joins us from Moscow with the very latest -- Steve.

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, news of that rescue effort comes from the press service of Russia's Northern Fleet. That's where this nuclear submarine went down was based.

Now the Russians will be using, according to this press report, standard rescue equipment. They'll be using something called a colacall (ph), or a bell, that will be placed over the hatch of the downed submarine in an attempt to evacuate some of those crew members.

Now there are anywhere from 100 to 130 seamen on board right now. They are in the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea, about 300 feet below the surface. That submarine that went down is resting on the sea floor.

Now still 10 hours after the reports began coming out about this accident, still some major fundamental questions unanswered. First of all, what caused the accident? Initially, there were reports of flooding after a torpedo launch during some war exercises. However, later that was changed by the head of Russia's navy. He said there was evidence of a large collision with the submarine. But what the submarine collided with, there's still no word, no details on that.

Another key item not known, the number of casualties. Are there any Russian seamen dead, have they been killed in the accident? No word on that yet, either yes or no, from the Russian side. What we do know now is that the Russians themselves are going ahead with an evacuation attempt. They are using standard rescue equipment. The weather reportedly is favorable, and they intend to work all night.

At the scene now in the Barents Sea, there are at least 10 naval vessels, several warships, an aircraft carrier with helicopters, at least three submarines also in the area. The Russians say they will do everything they can to save these more than 100 men -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Steve Harrigan, thanks, from Moscow. We'll continue to follow this story and have more on it at the bottom of the hour.

Now stay with us for "TALKBACK LIVE."

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