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DATE=8/20/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIAN SUBMARINE (L) NUMBER=2-265655 BYLINE=LAURIE KASSMAN DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: British and Norwegian teams have joined Russian rescue operations around a damaged submarine. Surveillance cameras were lowered to the wrecked submarine first. Now one of the Norwegian deep sea divers is descending to the sunken submarine on a reconnaissance mission to check the condition of the escape hatch of the Kursk. Correspondent Laurie Kassman brings us up to date from Moscow. TEXT: The Norwegian diver is checking on the condition of the rear cargo hatch of the sunken Kursk submarine. Then he will report back to those on the surface, who will have to determine whether a British mini- submarine, which arrived at the accident site on Saturday, can actually dock with the Kursk and access the damaged vessel. The diver has to check the currents around the vessel to determine if the mini-submarine can approach the Kursk. He will also examine the condition of the rear section of the submarine to determine if it is too badly damaged for any submersible to dock with it to gain access to the inside. Armed with that information, rescue teams on the surface will then decide how best to proceed. Earlier in the week, the Russian rescue mission was aimed at evacuating any survivors. But on Saturday the chief of staff of Russia's northern fleet said it was highly unlikely any of the 118 sailors on board the Kursk are still alive. He told a Russian T-V interviewer that most of the crew probably died instantly when a massive explosion ripped through the submarine last weekend. The special committee investigating the accident said on Saturday there was a massive explosion when the vessel hit the bottom of the sea. Navy officials still maintain a collision might have caused the accident. The Northern Fleet's chief of staff has called the accident the worst disaster in the history of the elite nuclear fleet. (Signed) NEB/LK/PLM 20-Aug-2000 03:43 AM EDT (20-Aug-2000 0743 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .