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INS Sindhurakshak explodes, 18 navymen feared dead

Mumbai, Aug 14 (): India’s most advanced diesel-electric submarine, the INS Sindhurakshak was devastated owing to huge explosion and fire at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai in which eighteen sailors are feared killed after the vessel tilted late Tuesday night.

Earlier reports on whether some sailors jumped to safety before the vessel went descending were not clear. However as there has been no contact established till now, personnel on board are feared to have been trapped, said officials adding that some injured personnel were also  rushed to the hospital in Mumbai’s Colaba but whether  they were from the INS Sindhurakshak has to be clarified, said officials.

Rescue operation is in progress, but could not yet enter the submarine, said navy officials. The submarine which was renovated three months ago in Russia at a cost of Rs 480 crore submerged late Tuesday with  only a portion of it  visible above the surface. The INS Sindhurakshak  which does not have a submersible escape pod , could have possibly helped the 18 trapped sailors to reach the surface, said officials.

Defence Minister AK Antony who left to Mumbai today confirmed the death of the trapped sailors this morning but denied giving other details. The internal explosion which took place after midnight on Tuesday was brought under control after 3 am after 16 fire tenders were set to extinguish the fire. Water tankers, rescue vehicles, ambulances were also rushed to the spot.

To take stock of the situation, Chief of Navy Staff Admiral DK Joshi reached Mumbai today. Though real cause for the explosion remained uncertain, officials suspect a gas leak (hydrogen and oxygen) might be the reason behind the explosion on the submarine. Officials also indicated possibilities of multiple blasts to have taken place outside the submarine, seeing the footage of the explosion. A board of inquiry has been ordered to investigate the case, said sources.