Operations are being conducted in high winds
MURMANSK, Russia -- Bad weather has forced divers to suspend
attempts to recover the bodies of the crew of the sunken Kursk
The divers have sliced through the submarine's inner hull,
but the storm in the Barents Sea, off northeast Russia, has
postponed work indefinitely.
Winds of 25 meters per second (56 mph) buffeted the Regalia
mother-ship, which serves as the headquarters for the retrieval
The divers working on the dangerous operation are attached to
the Regalia by tethers and risked being jerked about if the
storm worsens, officials said.
It was the fourth day of the risky operation to cut holes in
the submarine and attempt to remove the bodies of the 118
submariners who died when the Kursk sank on August 12.
Before the storm broke Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov
had hoped the first bodies could be brought to the surface by as
early as Tuesday.
Top Russian military officials have also warned that safety
concerns -- including fears about the Kursk's two nuclear
reactors, and threats to divers from jagged metal debris inside
the wreck -- could cause further delays to the work being
carried out 108 metres (330 feet) below the surface.
Divers have been working since Friday, manipulating robot
arms and specialised cutting equipment that sprays pressurised
water and diamond dust to slice through the hull.
Over the weekend, divers carved a passage towards the back of
the vessel as far as the thick, pressurised inner hull and a
team on Monday began to slice through the five-centimetre
(two-inch) thick sheet of steel, said Navrotsky.
Diamond dust has been used to slice through the hull
Divers over the weekend punched a test hole and found no
radiation, oil or air bubbles inside the compartment.
The operation is being run by the Norwegian arm of U.S. oil
services firm Halliburton with the Regalia, normally used for
underwater work in Norway's offshore oil industry, at anchor
above the Kursk, about 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of
Russia's Arctic Coast.
Norwegian divers have been doing most of the survey work and
cutting holes in the submarine. But only Russian military divers
will actually go inside the vessel.
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