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List of incorrect statements in Kursk affair

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MOSCOW — Throughout the Kursk submarine disaster Russian officials have given a number of incorrect descriptions of events.

Some clearly could have been caused by the fluid situation and lack of information, others appear aimed at understating the seriousness of the accident and exaggerating the capabilities of Russian rescue technology.

Some of the Russian media have accused the authorities of lying about the disaster.

Critics say the wrong reports at the very least caused unnecessary pain for the families of the victims, and at worst led to delays that may have prevented a successful rescue.

Following is a list of the falsehoods that drew the most attention during the course of the tragedy.

MONDAY, Aug 14

The navy initially reported the disaster Monday, August 14. It said it had taken place Sunday. In fact it took place Saturday, as was revealed later by Norway.

The navy said the Kursk was crippled by "technical faults" and the crew allowed it to glide to the sea bed. In fact, it was destroyed by explosions on board, quickly flooded and sank. Most of the crew was killed within minutes.

Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said that rescuers were in radio contact with the crew. In fact, there was no radio contact from the moment of the accident.

The navy said the crew had immediately signaled it had shut down the nuclear reactor that supplies power to the craft. Officials later said that the reactors' automatic system switched them off. In fact, since there was no radio contact, officials had no information from on board. There have been no radiation leaks.

Officials denied that the bow of the submarine was flooded, saying there was no damage to the hull.

Officials said they were lowering a diving bell to the submarine to supply it with electric power and oxygen for the crew. This did not take place. Rescuers accomplished nothing on Monday night except filming the site.


A navy spokesman said the crew had signaled there had been no deaths on board. Reports that there may have been some deaths were publicly denied.

Officials said Russian rescue equipment and crews were in no way inferior to those being offered by the West. In fact, Russia has no teams of deep sea divers capable of mounting an underwater rescue, and Russian rescue mini-subs are not as advanced as those offered by the United States and Britain.


A navy deputy chief of staff said the crew on board was continuing to signal by tapping on the hull. Later officials said that the last sound from the vessel came Monday.

FRIDAY, Aug 18

President Vladimir Putin says accepting foreign help earlier would have made no difference because foul weather would have interfered with an international rescue. Western military experts said weather would have had little impact on a rescue operation underwater using their technology.

Putin says he has known since the first day of the blast that the chance of anybody surviving on the ship was "extremely small," contradicting numerous optimistic reports.


Russian officials acknowledged that damage to the vessel was massive, most of the crew died within minutes and the rest are almost certainly dead. It is not clear how long they had known this information.

SUNDAY, Aug 20

Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said Norwegian divers had discovered the hatch to the submarine was too damaged to be opened. Norway said the divers made no such conclusion. They eventually opened the hatch with few problems.