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Main events in Russian submarine drama

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MOSCOW, Aug 19 — Following is a chronology of the main events since the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk sank to the Barents Sea floor, prompting frantic attempts to rescue the vessel's 118 crew who the navy say are now most likely dead.

(All times Moscow, GMT+4.)

+ Saturday, August 12 - Nuclear-powered submarine K141, the Kursk, fails to make a radio contact at 11:30 p.m. during Russian navy exercises in Barents Sea, north of Russia and Norway. It later emerged that the Oscar-2 class submarine shut down its reactor and sank to the seabed, 108 metres down.

+ Sunday - At 3:21 a.m. a sonic depth finder from the Pyotr Veliky cruiser found an "abnormality" on the seabed that turned out to be the Kursk.

+ Sunday - At 10 a.m. first rescue ships arrived and started attempts to evaluate the damage to the submarine.

+ Monday - 11 a.m. Russian navy first reports that the Kursk has sunk to the bottom. It says it has radio contact with the submarine, but this is later contradicted when officials say the only way for the crew to communicate is by tapping on the hull.

+ Monday - 1 p.m. Navy says rescue vessels have been rushed to the scene. Radiation levels are normal and the submarine has no nuclear weapons on board, officials say.

+ Monday - 2 p.m. Independent NTV television reports that the bow of the Kursk is flooded and power on board has been cut.

+ Monday - 4 p.m. Navy denies any flooding and for the first time gives the time of the accident: Sunday. This is contradicted the next day when Norway's foreign ministry says it has been told by Moscow the accident happened on Saturday. The navy has not confirmed this report.

+ Monday - 6 p.m. Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov says the submarine is seriously damaged. "The chances of a positive outcome are not very high," he says.

+ Monday night - Reports that the submarine may have collided with a foreign vessel are played down by officials who talk of an explosion on board.

+ Monday night - Britain offers to help Russia save the crew and puts an LR5 deep sea search and rescue craft on standby. The United States says it is also prepared to help.

+ Tuesday - 5 a.m. Raging storm hampers rescue efforts.

+ Tuesday - 9 a.m. Navy says it has heard the crew tapping and established that the sailors are alive.

Rescue crews wait for the weather to ease before attempting to link up small capsules with the Kursk. The navy says it can handle the situation without foreign help.

+ Tuesday - 3-6 p.m. Officials say rescue has been launched. Navy spokesman tells Reuters that Kursk's oxygen is running low.

+ Tuesday - 9 p.m. First rescue capsule is sent down but fierce storm forces attempt's abandonment within an hour.

+ Tuesday night - Russian military officials in Brussels talk to NATO counterparts to discuss possible help.

+ Wednesday - 2 a.m. Poor underwater visibility hampers rescue efforts, navy says.

+ Wednesday - 3-7 a.m. Second attempt to dock rescue capsule ends and third, ultimately unsuccessful mission starts.

+ Wednesday - 3 p.m. President Vladimir Putin, on holiday in southern Russia, describes situation as critical. Shortly afterwards, Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov says there are no signs of life in the submarine.

+ Wednesday - 4 p.m. Kuroyedov says Russia will use British aid to rescue the crew and will accept all foreign aid offered. Russia formally asks Britain and Norway for help.

+ Wednesday - 7 p.m. Plane carrying British LR5 mini-submarine lands in Trondheim, Norway. LR5 thought better suited to hooking up to the Kursk, which lists to one side.

+ Thursday - Six new attempts to evacuate crew fail due to bad weather, poor visibility and steep angle of the vessel.

+ Thursday - Supply ship carrying LR5 and crew sails from Trondheim.

+ Thursday - Seaway Eagle, carrying Norwegian divers, heads for the site. Expected to arrive very early on Sunday.

+ Thursday - High-level Russian military delegation starts talks with NATO in Brussels on what else it can do to help.

+ Thursday - Russian government commission, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, meets for eight hours in Northern Fleet home port Severomorsk, discussing rescue mission.

Klebanov says submarine probably collided with "another object" which ripped open its bow. He says many crew were in front compartments destroyed by the impact and that the Kursk sank within about two minutes.

+ Friday - A rescue capsule latches on to the submarine but has to abandon attempts to get inside as its batteries run low according to report by RTR television.

Putin says he knew from the start that chances to save the crew were "extremely slim." Cuts short participation in summit of Commonwealth of Independent States to return to Moscow.

+ Saturday - The head of the North Sea fleet's general staff, Mikhail Motsak, says there is virtually no chance any of the crew are still alive. He says many crew members died straight after an explosion destroyed the bow, flooding the front end of the craft.

+ Saturday 8:30 p.m. - The Norwegian boat Normand Pioneer, carrying a British rescue team and the LR5 underwater vehicle, arrived at the scene of the disaster.

+ Midnight Saturday to Sunday - Norwegian ship Seaway Eagle carrying Norwegian divers arrives at the disaster site. Russian RTR television reports from the scene that rescue operation will start between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Sunday.