Russia halts 'Kursk' bodies search

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The Independent Online

Russia gave up hope of recovering the bodies of all 118 crew members who perished aboard the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk in Arcticwaters, allowing Norwegian salvage teams to leave the site yesterday.

Russia gave up hope of recovering the bodies of all 118 crew members who perished aboard the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk in Arcticwaters, allowing Norwegian salvage teams to leave the site yesterday.

Russian vessels will remain in the area to monitor the wreck ahead of plans next year to raise the submarine to the surface of the Barents Sea.

A spokesman for Russia's Northern Fleet said the Regalia offshore platform vessel, which served as the base for the 18-day salvage operation, set off for Norway after it was determined that no more could be done.

Russian and Norwegian divers, accompanied by Russian naval officers, held a brief ceremony on the Barents Sea to remember those who died. Then the vessel departed.

"They stood at attention on the Regalia and released a wreath into the water," said fleet spokesman Vladimir Navrotsky. "In their short speeches, the divers said they did everything they could for the Kursk, even more."

Earlier yesterday, Russian navy officials said that work inside the badly damaged submarine had been stopped after it became too risky for divers. Divers had been unable to advance through the fourth of the Kursk's nine sections.

"Divers could only go about two metres into the fourth section and it was very dangerous for them ... so it was decided to stop work," he said. Officials then decided against trying to get into section five. (Reuters)

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