Russians 'endangered lives of foreign rescue divers'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

British and Norwegian rescue teams yesterday lashed out at Russian authorities for issuing contradictory information that hampered their missions after the sinking of the nuclear submarine Kursk in the Barents Sea.

British and Norwegian rescue teams yesterday lashed out at Russian authorities for issuing contradictory information that hampered their missions after the sinking of the nuclear submarine Kursk in the Barents Sea.

The Scottish pilot of the LR5 submersible, Paddy Heron, said his team had been "revolted" to listen to Russian leaders saying they had done everything possible to save the 118 trapped submariners.

A Norwegian officer who led the team of divers that opened up the Kursk on Monday said he had nearly called off the operation in fury after Russia gave him wrong information.Rear Admiral Einar Skorgen, told the Norwegian daily Nordlandsposten: "At times there were so many wrong details and disinformation from Russia that it was close to endangering the divers."

The Scottish pilot, Paddy Heron, expressed bitterness that the LR5 crew had never received the order to go to the seabed to join the rescue attempt. "Any arrangement or proposed operation that they spoke about was rescinded, gone back on, altered or countermanded during the entire time we were there," he said.

In a separate BBC Scotland interview, Mr Heron said the crew accepted it was unlikely that anyone was still alive aboard the Kursk by the time the British rescue team arrived. But he added: "If life was still extant, undoubtedly lives were then lost by the fact that we were sat doing nothing."

The Russian prosecutor-general meanwhile opened a criminal investigation into the 12 August sinking of the Kursk. Such a move is routine, while the investigation continues into the cause of the sinking.

Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the FSB, the successor organisation of the KGB, triggered howls of outrage from the Caucasus republic of Dagestan after he mentioned that three Dagestanis were on board the stricken vessel.

Although Mr Patrushev stressed there was no reason to believe they were connected to the sinking, the suggested guilt by association, at a time when Chechens are suspected of terrorist activities in Russia, prompted the fury.

* The Aberdeen-based company Stolt Offshore is working on a feasibility study to lift the Kursk to the surface. Stolt Offshore spokesman Julian Thomson said the study would take several months and a lifting would be possible in summer next year at the earliest.

Comments