18 Sailors Missing As Blast, Fire Rock Indian Naval Submarine



Mumbai: An Indian Navy submarine, which underwent a major refit in Russia, was rocked by a massive explosion and engulfed in flames at a high security dockyard in Mumbai. Many sailors jumped off to safety, but 18 were feared to be trapped inside.

The deafening blast followed by a fire occurred shortly after midnight on the INS Sindhurakshak submarine at the naval dockyard, officials said.

Many sailors on board the submarine reportedly jumped off to safety, but sources added 18 sailors were feared to be trapped in the vessel.

"...The details are being ascertained," an official defence ministry statement issued at 3.15 a.m. said.

Some INS Sindhurakshak sailors have been rushed to naval hospital INHS Ashvini in Colaba.

INS Sindhurakshak is an Indian Navy diesel-electric submarine that has been handed back to India following a major refit at Russia's Zvezdochka shipyard.

The explosion on the submarine comes within days of India getting its first indigenous
aircraft carrier Vikrant Aug 12 and the nuclear reactor that propels Arihant, the country's first ballistic missile submarine, going critical Aug 9.

The cause of the explosion and blaze, as well as the extent of damage to the submarine and naval properties, is still not known.

A board of inquiry has been ordered.

TV grabs showed a huge ball of flame.

At least 16 fire tenders of Mumbai Fire Brigade and Mumbai Port Trust were rushed to assist the naval fire brigade to douse the conflagration, the smoke emanating from which could be seen in many parts of south Mumbai.

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Source: IANS