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Russian Submarine Accident: Moscow Accepts Outside Assistance in Rescue Effort

Aired August 16, 2000 - 2:02 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: Glimmers of hope compete this hour with fears for the crew of the sunken submarine Kursk. Stymied up to now in its rescue attempts, Russia has finally asked for outside help and NATO nations are stepping up. Also today, the Russian Navy says the air supply on the Kursk may last longer than earlier believed. At the same time, though, the Russians say tapping sounds from the hull of the sub have fallen silent.

CNN's Mike Hanna is in Moscow. He's following the latest developments for us -- Mike.

MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, what caused the Russian change in mind in accepting assistance? According to a senior Russian Admiral, it was the direct intervention of Russian President Vladimir Putin. This following a phone call with U.S. President Bill Clinton. The senior admiral has told Russian television that following this telephone call, President Putin phoned the chief of the Navy, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, and ordered him to accept whatever offers of assistance had been made.

Well, whatever the reason, assistance is on its way. This in the form of a British submersible rescue vessel, the LR5, here seen arriving in the port of Trondheim, the Norwegian port. That's aboard a giant Russian Antinov and Trondheim is probably the closest port that can take aircraft of this size. From Trondheim, the British vessel will be put on board a ship to be taken to the rescue area. This will take a period of time, a couple of days, and probably it will not be before late Saturday that the British vessel is able to be deployed.

But the Russians say that their rescue efforts will continue, and they are continuing attempting to use their submersible rescue vessels to attach themselves to the hull of the submarine lying over 300 feet below the ocean surface. As yet, there's been no success, but the Russians say they are going to continue attempting to do so. This despite continually deteriorating weather conditions which has led to high swells on the surface, very strong currents, and minimum visibility on the bottom of the ocean, weather conditions that the British rescue team are also going to have to deal with, Natalie.

ALLEN: Mike Hanna in Moscow. Thanks to you, Mike.

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