Tragedies such as that of the Kursk submarine which sunk to the bottom of the Barents Sea on August 12, 2000, grip the attention of the international community, but are forgotten by most as soon as the next horrific occurrence hits the headlines.

Today, however, it was confirmed that 23 members of the crew survived the blast, which Russian authorities maintained had killed the entire crew. The survivors sat for hours in a dark compartment at the rear of the sub hoping to be rescued. Divers have found a letter, on the body of one of the men, recovered on Wednesday. Part of it has been put into the public domain, and it draws renewed attention to the grave and unforgivable mistake which the Russians made in refusing international help before it was too late. The note makes chilling and humbling reading.

Lieutenant-Captain Dmitry Kolesnikov wrote:

"All the crew from the sixth, seventh and eighth compartments went over to the ninth. There are 23 people here. We made the decision because of the accident. None of us can get to the surface...I am writing blindly.”

A total of 118 men died on board the Kursk.

For more information on the note, click here.