Monuments unveiled two years after Kursk sank

Monuments unveiled in Moscow, port town, for Kursk

Russians gathered in churches and cemeteries across the country on Monday to mark two years since 188 sailors died when the submarine Kursk sank.

Monuments were unveiled in Moscow and in the Arctic port of Vidyayevo, where the final voyage began.

The Kursk sank in the Barents Sea in August 2000 after a pair of devastating explosions. The vessel was on training exercises.

The story gripped the world for days as the Russian navy tried in vain to reach the trapped sailors, finally allowing foreign divers to help. There were no survivors.

In Moscow on Monday, a military band played while navy officers laid flowers at the base of the new monument. Family members of some of the dead sailors were there for the unveiling of the towering bronze sailor, cap in hand, standing over a submarine diving into the ocean.

In Vidyayevo, a black granite memorial was also unveiled as onlookers threw red carnations into the sea.

The Armed Forces Museum in Moscow opened an exhibit devoted to the Kursk, including crew photos and pieces of equipment salvaged from the wreck.

The Kursk was one of the Russian fleet's largest and most advanced submarines.

After initially attempting to blame the sinking on a collision with a NATO ship, or a Second World War mine, the Russian government launched a full investigation into the incident.

Last month, the country's top prosecutor announced a malfunctioning torpedo caused the explosions, blaming the hydrogen peroxide fuel.

Last fall, the bulk of the submarine was raised from the sea floor by an international salvage team. At the time, 115 bodies were recovered.

The navy says it will scrap the submarine and dismantle the two nuclear reactors it carried.

Parts of the bow left on the ocean floor will be blown up later this month, officials said.