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U.S. Intelligence Officials Doubt Crew of Russian Submarine Is AliveAired August 16, 2000 - 3:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Again, Natalie Allen here at CNN Center. A development regarding that sunken Russian sub and questions about the crew and whether they survived.
President Clinton, as we reported, is offering help to Russia in the rescue effort, but within the past hour CNN has learned that U.S. intelligence has doubts about the crew of the submarine.
Carl Rochelle is on this breaking story from his post at the Pentagon. Carl, what have you learned?
CARL ROCHELLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, U.S. intelligence analysts are telling CNN that they have no evidence to support the claims coming out of Russia that there ever was any knocking or pounding or acoustical signal from inside the submarine. They say that they are -- that these reports based on assessments and monitoring and eavesdropping do not agree with the earlier reports that there had been some knocking or banging from inside of the submarine.
Officials say Russian claims regarding the state of the ship's crew appear to have been overly optimistic, and it said it appears that many analysts suggested, many analysts say the crew may not have survived even the initial stages of the accident.
A little more on that, Natalie. There were two submarines and a surveillance ship in the area monitoring for the United States when the even occurred. They now tell us that it happened on Saturday, that there were two distinct explosions, one followed by a second even stronger explosion within a matter of seconds after the first explosion, Natalie. So some questions here.
ALLEN: So the U.S. obviously able to monitor this situation extremely closely.
ROCHELLE: Monitoring it through a number of methods, including eavesdropping, including being able to listen on the arrays when this thing happened. And the sources are telling CNN, the intelligence community not clear that there ever was any knocking or pounding or acoustical signals being sent from inside of that ship, Natalie.
ALLEN: All right, a development from the Pentagon. Carl Rochelle, thank you for that.
Britain, though, has sent a rescue sub that could join the rescue effort on Saturday, and Russia, of course, as Carl mentioned, has reportedly reported to have communicated with people aboard that submarine.
Let's get more about the situation from Moscow and CNN's Mike Hanna, reaction to what we just heard from Carl Rochelle, Mike.
MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, no official Russian reaction yet to those reports emanating from the Pentagon, but there have been discrepancies concerning communication with the submarine Kursk in recent days.
Russian spokesmen, both political and military and naval, have made reference at various times to hydro-acoustic communication. They've said as well that Morse code tapping signals have been practiced on the hull. But the one thing that has been clear in recent days is that whatever the degree of the communication was, if any such communication did indeed take place, was not sufficient for the crew to convey to the rescuers what the conditions are like inside the submarine.
Naval spokesmen have said throughout that the rescue operation is being hampered by the fact that they do not know what the situation is inside the submarine; they do not know whether there were any casualties among the crew; they do not know what is the condition of the crew.
So as to the actual conditions within the submarine, no clarity whatsoever and no indication that whether communication has taken place crew members were able to communicate to the rescuers exactly what their situation was.
I'm Mike Hanna, reporting live from Moscow.
ALLEN: And we will break in with any further developments on this story that we continue to watch closely. Now "TALKBACK LIVE."
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