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12 Aug, 2010 03:30

Kursk submarine tragedy remembered ten years later

The accident onboard the nuclear submarine Kursk that happened exactly 10 years ago during the naval exercise left all 118 members of its crew, most of whom were under 30, dead.

Mourning ceremonies have been held at all fleets of the Russian Federation’s navy to remember the victims of the tragedy.

Fleet commanders and families of the victims took part in a ceremony of throwing wreaths into the Barents Sea, where the tragedy happened ten years ago.

The catastrophe of the Kursk submarine is Russia's largest post-Soviet naval tragedy to date.

The Kursk had been the pride and the emblem of power of Russia's fleet, but a decade ago it turned to a symbol of pain.

On August 12, 2000 the nuclear submarine Kursk sank in the Barents Sea during a maritime exercise.

International rescue efforts failed to save anyone on board.

All 118 sailors aboard died while trapped in a watery grave waiting in vain for help.

Lydia Panarina, mother of 24-year-old Andrey who was a lieutenant on the Kursk, says what happened 10 years ago feels like yesterday.

“When I think of the pain he felt, it kills me. I would do anything – give my life to take away his pain – anything for my boy.”

She and her younger sons and grandsons often visit Andrey's grave. His memory is something they're not prepared to let go of.

“I'm a teacher, not a military expert. So I don't know whether the tragedy could be avoided. But I do know they should have been saved, our boys. They had to save them,” Lydia Panarina says.

According to experts, if rescue operations had begun immediately, instead of some days later, lives could have been saved.

Afterwards, oxygen levels in the remaining sectors where survivors huddled dropped dramatically. By August 14, Navy officials stated the chances for getting the sailors out alive were minimal. A week later, when divers entered the sub, 118 people were dead.

There have been many different versions of what really happened to the Kursk sub.

Some people believe it may have collided with an American submarine that was in the same waters, others – that it could have struck a mine left over from World War II.

But regardless of the theories floating about, the human tragedy of the Kursk cannot be denied – or ever forgotten.