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Russian Defense Minister reveals details of submarine rescue effort


PETROPAVLOVSK KAMCHATSKY, August 7 (RIA Novosti, Oksana Guseva) - Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has revealed particulars of the international operation to rescue the Russian mini-submarine Priz, trapped deep in the Pacific, off the Kamchatka Peninsula. Ivanov told a press conference here Sunday that the rescuers had been working for more than two days before they finally managed to bring the Priz submersible, trapped 190 meters (620ft) down, back to the surface. The vessel resurfaced at 4:20pm, local time, (3:20am GMT) today, he reported.

The British robot craft Scorpio involved in the international rescue effort worked on the seabed for six hours, trying to cut the submarine free of the fishing nets and underwater antennas in which she was caught up, Ivanov said, adding that the Scorpio had been flown to Kamchatka and taken out to sea on a Russian vessel.

According to the minister, the most worrying was the moment when all the snags had been removed, yet the Priz would not go off the seabed. Rescuers then suggested that the crew blow a stream of pressurized air through the submarine's nose. The craft came free and shot to the surface a few minutes afterward.

Military medics were on standby to provide care for the seven crewmembers, Ivanov said. But the men climbed out of the vessel unaided and said they did not need any medical attention. Yet, they were given a preliminary checkup on a ship equipped as a hospital, for they had been underwater for three days, coping with extreme temperatures (under 5 degrees Centigrade) and a dwindling oxygen supply. Doctors assessed the condition of all the seven saved submariners as non-critical, the minister reported.

Ivanov praised the Priz crew for their outstanding courage and perseverance and thanked the UK rescue team, whose robot craft enabled the rescue, describing the British counterparts' response as quick and competent. He called the entire operation, which had also involved U.S. and Japanese rescuers, an example of "naval camaraderie."

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