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"Massive Blast" In Kursk Torpedo Room (Oct. 16)

New details about the massive detonation that ripped apart Kursk's torpedo compartment in the vessel's bow have been revealed by Russian Navy commander-in-chief Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov. He told Interfax news agency: The power of the explosion in the first compartment was so great that mechanisms and equipment that were in it or in the second compartment were found by divers in the fourth compartment. Those who know the design of a submarine, where all compartments are separated by partitions, understand how great the blast really was."

The navy chief confirmed that the forward section - cut from the rest of the vessel for fear of endangering last week's lift - would be brought to the surface next year by the Russian Navy. Equipment for the task was currently being bought, and "no foreign divers and facilities will be necessary," Kuroyedov said. "Our divers will examine the separated first compartment to see whether unexploded torpedoes are there. Their number is not known yet," he added.

Another senior naval commander told journalists at the weekend that the wreck site where the shattered bow remains will be closed for reasons of security, not secrecy. Northern Fleet Commander Admiral Vyacheslav Popov said that while all measures would be taken to protect that area of the Barents Sea, the size of the sector would be reduced to one-tenth of its present proportions. Navigation and fishing would be prohibited there "to ensure maximum safety, so that fishing in that area would cause no excesses."

Popov refused to give dates for further stages of activity. "One shouldn't compel us to set time limits within which one or another phase of the operation is to be completed,"" he said. ""It doesn't matter now precisely when they will end. The main thing is that we shall do everything so that the submarine is placed in dock, with all the safety rules envisaged under the contract observed."

" The Power Of The Blast - Navy's Top Commander Tells More