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DATE=8/15/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIAN SUB (L-2ND UPDATE) NUMBER=2-265503 BYLINE=LAURIE KASSMAN DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Rescue operations are underway to save 116 Russian sailors trapped in a nuclear submarine lying more than 100 meters under the surface of the Barents Sea. From Moscow, Correspondent Laurie Kassman reports relatives and friends of the ship's crew are anxiously awaiting news, and fishermen in the area have been told to stay in port to avoid interfering with the rescue mission. TEXT: Russia's Itar-Tass news agency says a first attempt to lower a diving bell to the submarine failed. A second attempt was launched soon after. Experts say the diving bell must be lowered to the submarine, which is now at the bottom of the Barents Sea, some 100 meters below the surface. The craft then has to clamp onto an escape hatch. The problem is the precarious tilt of the submarine, which is reported to be lying on the ocean floor at a 60 degree angle. The diving bell -- once connected to the ship -- would then be used as an escape vehicle to ferry up small groups of sailors on board. The operation would take hours since there are more than 100 trapped on the submarine, the Kursk. The condition of those on board is not known at this point since there have been no direct communications links with the crew since Sunday. Crew members trapped inside have been hammering coded messages on the metal sides of the ship. Navy officials say any on-board oxygen supply is probably running low by now. Early reports indicated the Kursk may have collided with another vessel or an unidentified object. Now, officials say the nuclear submarine may have been damaged by an explosion on board. The Kursk is designed to carry two dozen nuclear- tipped cruise missiles, but Russian officials say it was not carrying any nuclear weapons at the time of the accident. So far Russia has turned down U-S, Norwegian and British offers of help. (Signed) NEB/LMK/JP 15-Aug-2000 15:00 PM LOC (15-Aug-2000 1900 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .