Index

DATE=8/20/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIAN SUB UPDATE (L) NUMBER=2-265661 BYLINE=LAURIE KASSMAN DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Norwegian divers have confirmed the damage to the sunken Kursk submarine that lies at the bottom of the Barents Sea. Now they are trying to find a way to get inside. Correspondent Laurie Kassman has more from Moscow. TEXT: Russian state T-V says the Norwegian reconnaissance team confirms earlier reports that the rear cargo hatch is badly damaged and so is much of the rest of the submarine. Divers are also tapping along the sides of the hull to find out which, if any, of the submarine's compartments might still have some air left. The information they transmit back to the surface will allow rescue teams to determine their next move and whether a British mini-submarine can dock with the Kursk and gain access to the inside. Earlier in the week, Russian rescue teams had hoped to use the rear cargo hatch to evacuate survivors. But the hatch was too badly damaged for a Russian diving bell to latch on and form a watertight seal around it. On Saturday, top Navy officials said it was unlikely that any of the 118 sailors on board the Kursk nuclear submarine are still alive. That statement provoked sorrow and anger among hundreds of relatives anxiously waiting in Murmansk port for any news of their loved ones. The Kursk submarine -- the largest and newest of Russia's elite nuclear fleet -- was on a training exercise last weekend when it suddenly plunged to the bottom of the icy Barents Sea. The front section of the hull was severely damaged by a massive explosion. The Northern Fleet's chief of staff says the crew working there would have been killed instantly. Navy officials are trying to determine the cause of the accident. (Signed) Neb/lk/dw/plm 20-Aug-2000 07:03 AM EDT (20-Aug-2000 1103 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .