Fire in submarine; 2 naval officers missing, 7 in hospital

Fire in submarine; 2 naval officers missing, 7 in hospital

Two Indian Navy officers reportedly went missing while seven sailors developed breathing problems in an early morning fire on board a submarine, INS Sindhuratna, in the high seas off the Mumbai shores, on Wednesday.

A massive search operation was launched to locate the two missing personnel, who are believed to have jumped off the vessel after spotting smoke emanating from rooms storing volatile and inflammable hydrogen batteries.

Some naval officials said there is a possibility of the duo getting trapped in a compartment adjacent to the battery room, which was sealed as soon as the smoke started seeping out. Engineers will open it after checking all safety parameters as there was a chance of another fire if the battery room was opened suddenly.

The Russian-built kilo-class submarine sans any weapon or armament was out in the Arabian Sea, around 50 km from the Mumbai sea line, to familiarise the 94 crew members with functioning of new re-fittings carried out in the vessel in December.

An official spokesperson said the smoke was detected in the sailors’ accommodation in compartment number three around 6 am. An alarm was sounded as the crew brought the fire under control. Seven of them, soon after combating the smoke, complained of severe breathing problems.

As headquarters of the Western Naval Command was sounded out, a SeaKing helicopter was rushed to the spot with a medical team. The injured were rushed to the naval hospital INS Asvini. All evacuated sailors were reported to be stable and out of danger. Families of the “missing” personnel have been informed.

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