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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Raising of Kursk Delayed Until Autumn

The operation to raise the sunken Kursk nuclear submarine has been delayed from summer to autumn because of funding difficulties, an official said Sunday.

Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said the operation had been rescheduled from July or August to the beginning of autumn, Interfax reported.

"The decision to postpone is related to the delay in signing the contract" between Russia's Rubin central design bureau and a consortium of companies from the Netherlands and Norway involved in the operation, Klebanov said.

The Kursk sank Aug. 12 during naval exercises in the Barents Sea, killing all 118 men aboard.

The Russian government is supposed to pay part of the mission's costs, estimated at $70 million, with the Kursk Foundation, an international fund-raising group based in Brussels, Belgium, paying the rest.

Klebanov said if the foundation "fails to raise the necessary funds, it will have to be made up from the Russian budget."

He stressed that the money raised by the fund will not go to Russia, "but will purposefully be given to the companies that will carry out the operation," Interfax reported.

The plan envisages that the Kursk would be raised using cranes and towed to the Russian port of Murmansk under a giant barge.

Russian officials have said that the Kursk's nuclear reactors were automatically shut down when it sank and would remain safe for at least 10 years, but said the ship should be lifted to avert any potential danger to the area's rich fishing grounds.

The government hasn't determined the cause of the disaster, saying it could have been triggered by an internal malfunction, a collision with a foreign submarine or a World War II mine.

Most Russian and foreign experts believe that the explosion of a practice torpedo was the most probable cause.