Venturing farther inside the sunken Kursk nuclear submarine, divers recovered more bodies Sunday from amid the jagged metal and silt that fill the wreck in the Barents Sea.
The number and identity of the bodies remained unclear, Russian officials said, apparently because the remains were badly damaged.
All 118 men on the Kursk were killed after an explosion crippled it Aug. 12. As the recovery work continued, a memorial ceremony for the submariners was held Sunday in this closed Russian military town.
The remains of four Kursk sailors were recovered last week, and four caskets, draped with the white-and-blue flag of the Russian navy, were carried atop armored personnel carriers into a seafront square under a cold, clear sky. Taking off their hats, Russian sailors dropped to one knee in the snow that had fallen on the Arctic town.
The names and ranks of all 118 officers and sailors were read aloud, and the mother of one burst into tears when she heard her son’s name. A few steps away, the young widow of Lt. Capt. Dmitry Kolesnikov, Olga, looked out over the square.
A note found in Kolesnikov’s pocket when his body was recovered Wednesday told a horrifying story of 23 survivors gathering in the submarine’s ninth compartment, hoping to get out through a jammed escape hatch.
Based on that note, Russian and Norwegian divers worked through Saturday night to cut a hole in the hull above the compartment at the stern of the submarine. But the thick rubber and steel would not yield, said Vadim Serga, a Northern Fleet spokesman.
The divers were forced to enter through a hole they had cut earlier in the eighth compartment and grope their way into the ninth, he said.
The cause of the disaster has not been determined. Russian officials have focused on the theory that the blasts were set off by a collision with another, possibly foreign, vessel. But others have said the most likely cause was a torpedo exploding in a tube on the Kursk.