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Leaky Torpedo Fuel Caused Kursk Disaster, Russia Says

July 28, 2002|From Associated Press

MOSCOW — Leaking torpedo propellant caused the explosion that sank the Kursk nuclear submarine nearly two years ago, killing its 118-man crew in what Russia's top prosecutor on Friday called a technical malfunction for which no one was to blame.

Closing the books on one of Russia's worst post-Soviet disasters, Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov also defended the Kremlin's handling of the rescue efforts and said no evidence was found to back up allegations that a collision with a Western submarine or a World War II mine could have been at fault. Ustinov said all the sailors aboard died within eight hours of the Kursk's sinking in the Barents Sea on Aug. 12, 2000--long before any help could have arrived.

When the navy located the submarine on the seabed some 30 hours after the catastrophe, "there was already no chance to save anyone," Ustinov said.

He spoke after reporting his verdict to President Vladimir Putin, saying the accident had been triggered by a leak of highly unstable hydrogen peroxide that exploded after contact with kerosene and the metal body of the torpedo.

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