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Breaking News

Russian Official Claims No Signs of Life from Trapped Sub

Aired August 16, 2000 - 9:01 a.m. ET

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

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with more news from Russia, where another desperate attempt is being made to reach crew members on that crippled submarine. Russia has now asked for the help of Great Britain, that after a Russian official was quoted as saying there have been no signs of life in recent hours from on board that sub, which still remains trapped at the bottom of the Barents Sea.

CNN's Mike Hanna the latest, from Moscow at this hour -- Mike.

MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, that statement that there have been no signs of life in recent hours came from the deputy prime minister of Russia, the man heading the government's commission investigating the accident, and Ilya Klebanov said that there had been no signs of life, but went on to stress that it is too early to draw any conclusions from this.

A military spokesman has said to CNN that communication with the submarine has been difficult throughout and at points communication was only maintained when the rescue vessels actually came into physical contact with the hull of the submarine. But there have been several discrepancies in the information coming from Russian military and naval and political sources.

The head of the Russian navy, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, has been quoted by the Interfax News Agency as saying that there is sufficient oxygen on board the submarine to last until August the 25th. That is next week. However, earlier this week, yesterday in fact, the admiral said that the oxygen was only sufficient until Friday. When asked to explain this discrepancy, a naval spokesman has told CNN that he cannot comment on statements made by the admiral.

Discrepancy two now in the number of crew aboard. The navy had been saying throughout the past 48 hours that there are 116 crew members. Now the naval press service says that there are 118 people on board. These all discrepancies originating in the flurry of events as people, the rescuers attempt to get the crew members off the vessel, which is lying at a depth of over 300 feet.

But the one point on which all agree is how serious the situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): The situation is difficult. I'd say the situation is critical. But we can only say that everything that can be done to save the ship and its crew is being done. As you know, our partners in other countries offered their services. When I asked what could be done to help our rescue team? the specialists said they already have all the resources for the operation. But you know that unfortunately, the weather is very bad. In the last few days there was a storm and that's why the rescuers could not use all of their resources. The attempt to connect failed. We will continue these attempts. What will the outcome be? we'll see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNA: Central to the outcome could be what's aboard this plane taking off from the coast of Scotland; on board a British rescue vessel, the LR5. Russia has asked a British rescue team for assistance. The British rescue team, together with the LR5 submersive rescue vessel, is on its way to site of the rescue attempts.

Mike Hanna, CNN, reporting live from Moscow.

HEMMER: All right, Mike, thank you.

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