Indian Submarine Blasts: Divers Struggle To Search Vessel

Navy divers standing on the INS Sindhurakshak submarine prepare to dive into the waters of the Arabian Sea, during a rescue operation in Mumbai August 14, 2013.Indian divers are struggling to search a submarine which sank after it exploded in a Mumbai dockyard with 18 sailors feared dead inside.

Rescuers are yet to reach any of the crew who were on board when two huge explosions led to a devastating fire early on Wednesday.

Officials say they have been hampered by poor visibility, restricted space and equipment displaced by the blasts.The divers are also working to bring the vessel back to surface. India’s navy chief has warned the country to “prepare for the worst”.

It is not clear what caused the blasts on the diesel and electricity-powered INS Sindhurakshak. An inquiry is under way and sabotage has not been ruled out, although officials say that looks unlikely at this stage.

Officials say divers aboard the submarine are working around the clock in difficult conditions.

The vessel is filled with sea-water and the heat of the explosion also melted parts of the internal hull, deforming the submarine hatches and preventing access to compartments. Heavy duty pumps are being used to pump out water in order to help refloat the vessel.

As India marked Independence Day, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed sorrow: “We are deeply pained that we lost the submarine INS Sindurakshak in an accident yesterday. Eighteen brave sailors are feared to have lost their lives,” he said.

The prime minister said it was all the more painful considering the navy’s recent successes in launching a home-built submarine and acquiring a nuclear submarine.

 


 

India Submarine Blast: Lives Lost In Mumbai Port

A man watches Indian Navy submarine INS Sindhurakshak on fire in Mumbai August 13, 2013A number of crew have been killed in a huge explosion and fire on an Indian submarine berthed at a Mumbai dockyard, India’s defence minister says.

AK Anthony said he felt “sad about those navy personnel who lost their lives”. Earlier the navy said it feared 18 sailors had been trapped on board.

The blast on the INS Sindhurakshak took place after midnight and fire-fighters spent four hours putting out the blaze.

Officials said the diesel-powered vessel was badly damaged.

Mr Antony gave no further details about how many people were killed and if he was referring to deaths among the sailors still trapped on the submarine.

But one navy official said that “surviving an explosion of this huge scale” was rare.

Many sailors managed to jump to safety after the blast. Rescue teams are on scene and some of the injured were taken to hospital. The submarine remains partly submerged at its berth.

It is unclear exactly what caused the explosion but dramatic images on Indian television showed a large fireball illuminating the sky. Smoke from the blaze could be seen in many parts of the city.

A naval inquiry has been set up to look into the causes of the incident, but officials said they suspect it to be the result of an on-board error and not an act involving any outside agency.

The Russian-built submarine was upgraded recently at a cost of $80m (£52m).

Russian firm Zvyozdochka, which refitted the submarine, said the vessel had been fully operational when it was returned to India in January.