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Russian Navy Weighs Options for Rescuing Trapped SubAired August 14, 2000 - 1:31 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The top stories we're following today: the opening of the Democratic convention in L.A.; and far from L.A., that crippled Russian nuclear submarine now 350 feet below Arctic waters in the Barents Sea.
Steve Harrigan is covering the story for us from Moscow.
Big question, Steve, will there be a rescue and two, since we just talked to Paul Beaver, the military expert, again, he said that many people believe this could be a lot worse, catastrophic, than the Russians have been reporting.
STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, one thing that probably gives credence to what Mr. Beaver said is the change in tone from Russian officials in speaking about this accident. Initially when the accident was first reported, we heard from navy spokesmen really trying to down play the seriousness of this accident, using words like "a technical malfunction." It seemed to be, according to them, only a matter of time before this technical malfunction was straightened out.
However, that has changed dramatically over the past two hours. We are hearing no longer from a navy spokesman but from the head of the Russian navy himself. And a very gloomy prognostication by the head of the Russian navy, saying that there has been serious collision damage to the submarine and also that the chance for success of a rescue did not look good. So really a dramatic turn of events as far as Russian spokesmen go. Initially talking just about technical malfunctions and now from the very head of the navy, a gloomy outlook for what could be up to 130 sailors as well as a nuclear-powered submarine with a nuclear reactor onboard -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Steve, did they give any details on why the chance for rescue might not be good?
HARRIGAN: No real details on why the chance for rescue might not be good. It could depend on the amount of damage, of course, and the amount of water in the submarine. A lot of questions still unanswered. If there was a collision, with what? We've heard speculation from Russian naval officers about perhaps even a collision with a foreign submarine in the area or with a rock. But no real details on what the submarine collided with.
So still, really, some major questions unanswered about how this accident happened and some real decision-making ahead for the Russians. Reportedly, the main decision now will be whether or not to attempt to raise the submarine up from its depth of about 300 feet or whether to simply try and rescue the crew and abandon the submarine. Reportedly that decision will be coming up in the next few hours -- Natalie.
ALLEN: And have the Russians said anything about casualties onboard?
HARRIGAN: Well, there's been no hard facts about casualties. Initially the reports were optimistic saying there are no casualties onboard. Now we are hearing a slight change in that in tone. No reported casualties. however, some senior Russian naval officers not ruling out the fact that there could be casualties. So really, no certainty on whether or not there are casualties. Of course, onboard anywhere from 107 to 130 seamen now trapped below the Barents Sea -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Steve Harrigan, thanks for the update.
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