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Russian Submarine Accident: Rescue Efforts Under Way With Submersible in Water

Aired August 15, 2000 - 1:30 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: We may know something later today about the fate of 116 Russian sailors trapped in a submarine 350 feet beneath the surface of the Barents Sea. Russian Navy officials say they have started a rescue attempt.

CNN's Walter Rodgers is near the Russian border in Kirkenes, Norway. He joins us from this remote location via videophone -- Rodger -- Walter.

WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Natalie.

At this hour, the Norwegians are saying the conditions at sea for the rescue are much improved over what they were last night, and they're expecting about a 20- or 24-hour window to hold. This, as you say, the Russians have now put a submersible submarine in the water. It may take them five hours to get it into position, but they apparently have a submersible submarine in the water which could, if it is successful, bring up the first survivors of the Kursk tragedy, the disaster of that submarine which hit the ocean floor a short while ago.

Now, the submarine itself is actually lying about a little over 100 miles from where I'm standing. It is in 100 yards -- 100 meters of water. Very cold down there.

I was talking a short while ago, incidentally, with a Norwegian who trades with Russian fishermen along the Barents Sea coast here. The two countries are flush up against each other. He told me that the Russian fishermen from Murmansk have been told to stay in port, not to go out, not to fish anymore while this submarine is on the bottom of the ocean and while the rescue efforts are under way, as I say, at this time. The Norwegians and the Russians both fish these waters for cod fish. They are very rich fishing waters. The Russians, however, have been told -- Russian fishermen in Murmansk -- stay in port. The Norwegians are staying far away form the scene because they don't want to interfere, of course, with the rescue efforts. And the Norwegians are, of course, wary of any possible radiation leakage from the submarine -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Walter Rodgers in Norway, thanks to you, Walter.

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