Fire in Russian submarine claims 14 lives - GulfToday

Fire in Russian submarine claims 14 lives

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Russia's defence ministry said on Tuesday that fourteen seamen have died in a fire on a deep submersible.

"On July 1, a fire broke out during biometric measurements on a scientific research deep-sea submersible," the defence ministry said.

Fourteen crew died as a result of poisoning from the fumes of the fire in Russia's territorial waters, a ministry spokeswoman confirmed to reporters.

The fire has been put out, the ministry said, adding an investigation was under way.

"The investigation is being conducted by the commander-in-chief of the navy."

Deadly fire is the latest in a string of disasters and accidents to hit the country's navy.

The tragedy in the far north has echoes of the sinking of the Kursk submarine in 2000 that claimed the lives of 118 personnel and shook the first year of Vladimir Putin's presidency.

The research was conducted to study areas near the seabed and the seabed itself of the ocean in the interests of the Russian naval fleet, according to the ministry.

The vessel is now situated at a military base in the closed northern city of Severomorsk which is located on the Kola Peninsula above the Arctic Circle.

The defence ministry provided no other details.

Putin has yet to respond publicly to the disaster.

A military expert, speaking to media on condition of anonymity, rubbished claims that the fire happened during scientific research.

"Usually it's a cover for different type of work conducted on the seabed" like laying cables, the expert said.

The RBC newspaper, citing a source in law enforcement agencies, said the accident took place in the submersible deployed from the AC-12 nuclear submarine known as Losharik.

Novaya Gazeta independent newspaper said, citing sources, that the fire took place aboard the AC-12 submarine, killing the entire crew of 25 officers Russia has seen a number of such accidents in the post-Soviet period.

Agence France-Presse