Second note reveals Kursk horror

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The Independent Online

A second note from a dead man has reminded Russians of the ordeal their sailors suffered in the sunken nuclear submarine Kursk, telling of a struggle against deadly carbon monoxide gas from a fire.

A second note from a dead man has reminded Russians of the ordeal their sailors suffered in the sunken nuclear submarine Kursk, telling of a struggle against deadly carbon monoxide gas from a fire.

The note from the unnamed submariner was found in his clothing after his body was pulled from the submarine by deep-sea divers, Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said.

Klebanov read parts of the note, the second one to be found and made public, after a meeting of the government commission investigating the August 12 disaster.

"There are 23 people in the 9th compartment. We feel bad ... we're weakened by the effects of carbon monoxide from the fire... the pressure is increasing in the compartment... if we head for the surface we won't survive the compression," Klevanov said on ORT government television.

"We can't last more than a day," the note concluded, Klebanov said.

The sinking was a national trauma for Russia because of the loss of one of the country's most modern vessels, and because of the government's slow and apparently confused response.

Russia held off for days on accepting foreign offers of help even as its own divers struggled ineffectually to reach and open the Kursk's escape hatch. Norwegian divers eventually reached the sub on the ninth day after the sinking, but found it filled with water.

Only 12 of the 118 bodies could be recovered.

The note was similar to one found on the body of another sailor found in the 9th compartment, which is toward the rear. That note, written by Lt Dmitry Kolesnikov, told of how 23 sailors had crowded into the pitch-black compartment after explosions in the sub's nose sent it to the bottom.

Kolesnikov's family said that the death certificate they were given by the government listed the cause of death as carbon monoxide poisoning.

The highly toxic gas is produced by combustion of carbon-containing materials such as charcoal, oil, or gasoline without enough oxygen present.

Klebanov didn't discuss the carbon monoxide issue.

He said the note also contained technical information, about "the straps on the individual devices." He didn't say what devices.

Klebanov also said that pictures taken of the submarine during the recovery operation has produced new evidence supporting the theory that the accident was caused by a collision with another vessel, possibly a foreign one, news reports said.

The evidence includes videotape of a dent in the submarine, he said. But Klebanov said other possible causes of the accident are still being considered.

Russian officials have blamed a collision, pointing to the presence of foreign military vessels in the Barents Sea during the military exercises in which the Kursk was taking part.

Both Britain and the United States had submarines in the Barents Sea, but deny their vessels were near the Kursk. Other observers have said the sinking most likely was caused by a torpedo exploding in a tube.

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