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Breaking News

Divers Find Note Attached to Kursk Sailor's Body

Aired October 26, 2000 - 6:29 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: Just moments ago, a Russian General confirmed that divers retrieving the bodies of the 118 sailors on board the Russian sub Kursk found a note on one of them.

For more about what the note said, we return now to CNN Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty, who's been standing by in Moscow.

Jill, tell us the latest.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Andria, the chief of the Russian naval staff, Admiral Mikhail Mostak, said that one of those four bodies that have been found in the Kursk had a note on it. And he identified that person, the body, as Lieutenant Dimitri Koleznikov (ph), who was the head, the commander, of the seventh section of the Kursk. He said that the beginning of the note was very personal, that they were not going to reveal it, apparently it was addressed to somebody in particular, Obviously it could have been the family, but they did not say that.

And then he said that the note from Lt. Dimitri Koleznikov said all crewmen from compartment six, seven and eight have gone into the ninth section. He also, in that note, said that two men had tried to escape through the rescue hatch, but could not, and they did not survive.

The Admiral also said that because of this information about the ninth section, they are completely reviewing this recovery operation. They are going to stop, take a break and re-evaluate. After all, they had been working backwards toward the front of the submarine, working from nine to eight to seven. They were working on the seventh section today, but now they apparently are going to stop that and return to that last ninth section in order to find what they hope will be some of the people who died, the bodies of some of the people who died in the Kursk.

They also said, the Admiral said that they have set up a hotline for family members so that they can get through to officials, find out correct information about what is going on. And they also said that they will be taking the bodies into the central part of Severamursk (ph), which is where the Russian fleet is located, and they will have some type of memorial service for them.

Also, the admiral was extremely critical about the articles and public information that has, even books, that have appeared on the Kursk. He said that they have been naming people, naming some of the rescuers. He was very angry about that. He also said that it was unacceptable that they had actually -- somebody, apparently, in the navy, had quite a while back sold the names of the men who were on the Kursk. Originally those names were not revealed, and somebody actually took the names and sold them, which, he said, was really a dastardly thing to do.

So, there is a lot of emotion. The families now have been ever since August struggling with whether they could ever even get their loved ones bodies back, and now we get the first note from a person who did die in the Kursk describing some of the last moments -- Andria.

HALL: Jill, we know that there was a lot of international pressure on the Russian government around the time of the investigation, around August 12. The families were also very concerned about the investigation not moving rapidly enough.

Have you heard any word from the families now that this new information is out?

DOUGHERTY: Well, it's been very -- actually, this information just came out about a half an hour ago, so there hasn't been any real reaction. But, you know, there was a lot of controversy about whether they should even attempt this operation. It's a very dangerous one, very difficult. The divers are certainly in a dangerous situation when they even entered the Kursk.

So, many people were saying perhaps we should just let them rest in peace, not have a recovery operation. But President Putin, Vladimir Putin, had promised that they would do it. They went ahead and did it. And now four bodies have been recovered and on one of them we find this note, which is really quite astounding information, describing the last moments -- Andria.

HALL: Jill Dougherty live in Moscow. We know you'll keep working the story. And, of course, the rest of our news programs will continue to monitor and check in with you throughout the day.

Thanks, Jill.

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