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Missing In Russian Dam Disaster Might Still Be Alive

Rescue workers search for survivors among the rubble of the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power plant.
ABAKAN, Russia -- About 10 workers of Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower station missing since an accident on August 17 might be trapped alive in a compartment underwater, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The station's leadership and relatives of the missing workers held a meeting in the town of Cheremushky on August 18, where it was reported that underwater rescue workers have heard signals from a compartment on the 320-meter level of the power station, which is completely underwater.

Two workers were rescued from an area close to the one where the signals seemed to originate.

According to family members, those who did not use elevators right after the disaster were rescued. Those who had no other choice than to use elevators to go down to lower compartments might still be alive.

Citing station management, Olga Asachakova, whose boyfriend may be among the trapped workers, told RFE/RL that to access the trapped workers it is necessary to decrease the water level, which is impossible due to the damage caused by the accident.

At least 60 people are still missing since the accident. Twelve have been confirmed dead after one of the turbine rooms flooded at the dam early on August 17.

Video of the initial explosion on August 17:

Meanwhile, the accident has revived memories of the sinking of the Russian submarine "Kursk" in August 2000, when underwater rescue workers heard signals from surviving crew members, but were unable to rescue them.

That disaster claimed the lives of 118 sailors.

Video of the damage in aftermath: