Oslo, 21 August 2000 (RFE/RL) - A Norwegian military commander says there is no evidence of any survivors among the 118 seamen aboard the sunken Russian nuclear submarine "Kursk." Rear Admiral Einar Skorgen spoke after Norwegian divers managed to open an inner hatch into one of the sub's compartments, which was flooded.
Skorgen also said there is no evidence of any radiation leaks from the two reactors that powered the vessel. He said he has proposed to Russian authorities that the operation be changed from a rescue operation to a salvage mission.
Skorgen also complained about excessive Russian bureaucracy that continues to delay decisions. But he said such delays must be accepted because it is a Russian-led operation.
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry says Russia today asked Norway to help recover the bodies of the 118 seamen. Norway has not yet responded to the request. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov today issued an international appeal for funds to conduct a salvage operation on the submarine, which is under the Barents Sea.