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Russia: Rescue Efforts Fail As Western Help On Its Way

Moscow, 17 August 2000 (RFE/RL) - Officials say submersible rescue capsules are still unable to dock with a crippled nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea. The three Russian capsules are taking turns trying to connect with the "Kursk" in an attempt to evacuate any of 118 seamen who might still be alive inside the vessel that sank last weekend. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov today described the situation on the Kursk as "close to catastrophic." Russia yesterday accepted offers of assistance from Britain and Norway. Norway is sending a team of divers, and Britain is sending a submersible vessel described as "an underwater helicopter." The vessel will be shipped aboard a cargo ship from Norway, but is not expected to arrive at the site until Saturday. Russian officials have said they fear the submarine could be out of oxygen as early as tomorrow.