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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin: Kursk Victims Will Be Recovered, Submarine Raised

President Vladimir Putin has decided to go forward with an operation to retrieve the bodies of 118 crewmen who died aboard a nuclear submarine that sank in the Barents Sea, Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said Tuesday.

Some recent reports had said that the proposed operation was being delayed because of disputes over financing, but Klebanov said after meeting with Putin that contracts have been drafted and are expected to be signed within a few days.

The contracts are with the Norwegian company Stolt Offshore, whose divers were able to open the hatch of sunken submarine Kursk after Russian efforts failed for days. The amount of the contracts was not immediately announced.

Click here to read our Special Report on the Kursk Tragedy.

The retrieval effort is expected to take place in October or November, Klebanov said, according to Interfax. The Kursk sank Aug. 12 after massive explosions.

The blasts shattered the submarine so severely that divers are unlikely to be able to retrieve the remains of sailors who were in the first four of the Kursk’s nine compartments, Klebanov said.

Putin also has ordered that an operation be conducted to raise the wreck of the Kursk from its resting place 108 meters below the surface, Klebanov said. That effort is expected to start next summer.

Interfax said the cost of raising the wreck is estimated at $45 million. No contracts have been signed for the salvage operation, but Klebanov the work will most likely include Dutch and Belgian companies, Interfax reported.

The cause of the explosions has not been determined. Officials say they are focusing on indications that the Kursk collided with an underwater object, possibly a foreign submarine.

The United States says two of its submarines were monitoring the naval exercises in which the Kursk was taking part but denies that either was in a collision.