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DATE=8/17/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA SUB (L) NUMBER=2-265577 BYLINE=LAURIE KASSMAN DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: British and Norwegian rescue teams are racing toward the Barents Sea, where a Russian nuclear submarine lies 100 meters below the surface. There are 118 sailors trapped on board. Correspondent Laurie Kassman reports from Moscow that overnight attempts to save the crew and submarine failed because of strong currents and poor visibility. TEXT: Public anger is growing over Russia's critical delay in accepting foreign assistance. Russia finally agreed to let foreign rescue teams join their efforts Wednesday, four days after the ship went down. Britain has dispatched a mini-submarine it hopes can dock with the sunken "Kursk" and evacuate any survivors. The question now is will it arrive in time and is it compatible with the Kursk for such a docking maneuver. The British equipment and Norwegian deep-sea divers are not expected to reach the accident site before late Friday or Saturday. Russian and NATO officials are expected to consult in Brussels, later in the day, about additional help. Newspapers and ordinary citizens now are expressing fears it may be too little too late. A radio poll says three-fourths of those responding have criticized the way the government is handling the disaster. Conflicting official reports about what happened have sparked accusations of lies and incompetence. Analysts and commentators say Russian pride and secrecy over its military capabilities prevented Navy commanders from asking for outside help sooner. Rescue efforts so far have failed to reach the sunken nuclear submarine because of strong underwater currents and poor visibility. A navy spokesman says one mini-submarine did get close, but low battery power forced it back to the surface. The British mini-submarine is capable of remaining submerged for four days. Tuesday, Russian officials acknowledged an on-board explosion caused the Kursk to sink like a rock to the bottom of the Barents Sea. //REST OPTIONAL// Military experts say the blast would have certainly caused death and injury. They do not rule out the possibility that all or most of the 118 sailors and officers aboard the ship have perished. Officials say communication with the Kursk has been sporadic, relying only on some coded hammering on the metal sides of the hull. Panic spread when the tapping stopped Wednesday afternoon but a top Navy commander insists that did not mean everyone had perished. He suggests survivors would be trying to conserve their energy as oxygen and temperature levels inside drop. (Signed) NEB/LMK/WD 17-Aug-2000 03:55 AM LOC (17-Aug-2000 0755 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .