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Russian Submarine Accident: No Hope for SurvivorsAired August 21, 2000 - 7:16 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We update our top story this morning: the search for survivors of that Russian submarine on the bottom of the Barents Sea. Divers opened the hatch today, but they found no survivors inside. This comes as more of the crew's families arrive in Murmansk, which is home for the Kursk.
Let's go there now. CNN's Walter Rodgers is standing by -- Walt.
WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Leon.
News that all hands aboard the Kursk have definitely been lost as a dreadful blow for this community. Murmansk is on the Barents Sea just inland, and it is just south of the homeport of Russia's Northern Fleet, several or most.
Everyone in this town is numbed by the final word that the all hands were lost. Until then, the watchword here in Murmansk on the streets was, everyone you talk to said, the last thing that will die is hope. Until just an hour or so ago, everyone in Murmansk was clinging to the hope that some of the sailors might have been able to find an air pocket in the Kursk, and perhaps survived.
So, now, I suspect we will probably enter a period of recrimination, public recrimination against Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, for taking so long to come off his holiday in the Black Sea and personally deal with the crisis.
We are apt to see recrimination over the budget cuts, which has so badly short-changed the Russian navy. It used to get about 15 percent of the defense budget, it is down now below 12 percent, according to some estimates.
Many people here in this town personally know sailors who went to sea aboard the Russian navy, and they knew there had been cost-cutting and corner-cutting here. And so there, as I say, the budget cuts alone are reasons that you are going to hear public rumbling.
Plus the general ham-handed way in which the Russian government in Moscow handled the released of the information. The fact that it was issuing contradicting statements one-hour and then contradicting their own statements the next. It's a very difficult time.
At one point, I was speaking with a Russian junior officer, about two hours ago, a junior naval officer. And I said, if you have to put your ships to sea with so little money to fund your navy, why do you do it? And his response was, you Americans are still putting nuclear submarine to sea -- Leon.
HARRIS: Well, Walter, what are the family members of the crew telling you now about what they are going to do, since now it appears that no one is going to brought off that boat alive? Are they going to stay there and wait or what?
RODGERS: Well, there are members of the families who have been secluded on the military bases here, closed military bases. So we don't have access to them, but, in a little over two hours, another plane load of family members of the crew of the Kursk are due to land in Murmansk.
And, interestingly enough, that plane was chartered by a private Russian oil company, not the government. Boris Verizovsky (ph) today announced, he and the other capitalists in Moscow were raising $1 million to help the families of the crew member of the Kursk. The government has not been able to come up with that kind of money. Again, it testifies to kind of ham-handed handling of this crisis by the government in Moscow, and certainly the recriminations will continue -- Leon.
HARRIS: All right, Walter Rodgers, reporting live this morning, from Murmansk. We thank you much.
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