Explosion at Mumbai port hits submarine and traps 18
A diesel-powered Indian navy submarine with at least 18 sailors on board caught fire after an explosion and sunk at the port of Mumbai last night.
The explosion took place shortly after midnight and it took 16 fire engines and dozens of navy fire fighting units nearly two hours to extinguish the fire.
An Indian navy official said divers “had been deployed soon after the flames were extinguished and they are still looking for the men on board”.
It has been reported that the fire set off two torpedoes on board the 16-year-old Russian made INS Sindhurakshak. The deadly missile hit another submarine and a naval vessel. However, the damage to the second submarine was minor and several other crew members are reported to have escaped by jumping off the submerged vessel.
INS Sindhurakshak had recently returned from Russia less than a year ago after undergoing an upgrade and a refit. It was only reintroduced into the Indian navy in April and was capable of firing cruise missiles at a range of 125 miles.
Speaking to the press, a navy spokesman, Narendra Kumar Vispute, said: “The cause of the explosion in not known, we are searching for the 18 personnel. It is still unclear how many sailors are killed or injured.”
The Indian defence minister, A.K. Antony, has expressed his sorrow at the loss of lives in the tragic incident. He said: “ I feel sad about those navy personnel who lost their lives in the service of the country.”
The Indian navy has ordered an inquiry into the incident. The explosion is believed to be an accident similar to the one in February 2010, when a ship caught fire while docked at the Vishakhapatnam port in the south-eastern state of Andhra Pradesh, killing a 24-year-old sailor and injuring two other crew members.
Wednesday’s explosion comes a day after India launched its first indigenous aircraft carrier and activated the reactor aboard its locally designed nuclear-attack submarine.
The country has 15 diesel-powered submarines, including 10 diesel-electric vessels similar to Sindhurakshak. Last year, it acquired a Russian Nerpa nuclear submarine on a 10 year lease from Russia at a total cost of nearly $900 million.