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Kursk remains to be scrapped

MOSCOW, Russia -- The Kursk nuclear submarine is to be scrapped, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov has announced.

The Kursk's 118-strong crew died when powerful explosions sent the submarine to the bottom of the sea during military exercises on August 12 last year.

The submarine was lifted from the Barents Sea floor and brought to dry dock last month.

With all the bodies and sensitive equipment removed, the hulk will be scrapped at the Nerpa plant in the northern Murmansk region.

The plan, which includes cutting out the submarine's reactor, is expected to be approved by the government by the end of the month, Klebanov said.

His remarks were carried by the official Web site for the salvage operation, kursk.strana.ru.

The Kursk will be sent to the plant after prosecutors complete investigations inside its hull, said Klebanov, who is in charge of the operation.

Plans for raising the forward section of the submarine will be approved later this month, he added.

Meanwhile, the 56th of 57 bodies retrieved from the hull has been identified, prosecutors said.

Twelve other bodies were removed by divers during an operation last year.

Last week, investigators searching the wreckage were forced to retreat when they saw undetonated explosives scattered around its forward section.

More than 150 kilograms (330 pounds) of explosives from torpedo warheads were blown into the Kursk's second and third compartments by the huge explosions which sank the vessel, the chief prosecutor of the Northern Fleet, Vladimir Mulov, said.

Funeral services are now being held around the country for the sailors whose bodies were recovered.

St Petersburg city officials plan to hold one funeral for all the local Kursk victims and have prepared 30 graves at the Serafimov cemetery next to the graves of two Kursk sailors buried there last year.

Russian authorities now say that the tragedy was triggered by a practice torpedo which exploded, causing a detonation of combat torpedoes in the bow.

Officials said the initial explosion could have been caused by an internal flaw, a collision with another vessel or a World War II mine.

Next year, the navy plans to raise fragments of the Kursk's bow, which was sawn off and left on the seabed because of fears it could break off and destabilise the lifting operation.



 
 
 
 


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