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Russain team in Mumbai to probe explosion

Experts from Russia’s Severodvinsk-based Zvezdochka shipyard, where INS Sindhurakshak had its refit and life extention, have arrived in Mumbai to investigate the ‘tragic accident’ that led to the destruction of the Kilo class submarine on 14 August. They have to undertake the task more because the submarine had a year’s warranty, after its refit. It had joined the Western Fleet on 29 April in Mumbai.

The probe is expected to begin once the ship is salvaged and the Navy instituted Board of Inquiry (BOI) gets into full swing. Navy spokesperson, Captain PVS Satish said on Monday that the BOI could seek to call upon the expertise of Russian specialists to probe the real cause of the accident.

While the navy divers did not find remains of another casualty, after the sixth they brought up on Sunday evening, the search has not been called off. Now, the government is calling upon salvage experts from across the world as India does not have trained salvers.

Meanwhile, defence minister AK Antony made a suo moto statement in the Rajya Sabha on Monday. He said, ‘Eighteen naval duty personnel, comprising three officers and 15 sailors, were inside the submarine at the time of the incident. As the explosion and resultant damage were near instantaneous, these personnel could not evacuate.’

The minister added, ‘Although full details are yet to emerge, the rapidity and intensity of the explosion and resultant damage sustained by the submarine indicate that the personnel would not have survived.’

Antony also indicated that the forward portion of the hull have been breached and the sea water is flowing into the submarine. Some observers say that the hull damage and the extensive damage to the internal steel structure of the submarine almost make it seem that even when it is salvaged, it will have to be written off. The repairs will be so expensive that it will not be worthwhile.

‘Preliminary investigation indicate that the explosion was due to the possible ignition of armament,’ Antony said.
Pinaki Bhattacharya

Pinaki Bhattacharya

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