Indian Navy divers enter sunken submarine, recover 3 bodies of missing crew

Indian Navy divers near sunken Indian submarine. File Pic
Indian Navy divers near sunken Indian submarine. File Pic

After intense efforts, Indian Navy divers finally managed to enter sunken submarine (INS Sindhu-rakshak) on Friday and recovered three bodies of missing crew. At least 18 crew members were missing when the submarine sunk on August 14 after explosions.

New Delhi, Aug 16/Nationalturk – After 36 hours of continuous and intense diving, Indian Navy divers Friday finally managed to reach the second compartment of sunken submarine (INS Sindhurakshak) and recovered three bodies of missing crew members.

18 Navy personnel including three officers , who were on board the submarine, had gone missing after the submarine, which was 16-years-old and made in Russia, exploded on Wednesday and burst into flames and sunk.

“Indian Navy diving teams have been working non-stop to reach into the compartments of the submarine since rescue operations commenced early noon of August 14,” Indian Navy spokesman said.

He said the boiling waters inside the submarine prevented any  entry. “Access to the inner compartments of the submarine was made almost impossible due to jammed doors and hatches, distorted ladders, oily and muddy waters inside the submerged submarine resulting in total darkness and nil visibility within the submarine even with high power underwater lamps”.

He said heavy duty pumps are being used to pump out the water from the submarine. “There has been large scale ingress of sea water into the submarine due to the explosion”.

‘Very slow and labored progress’

The Navy spokesman said distorted and twisted metal within very restricted space due extensive internal damage caused by the explosion further worsened conditions for the divers. “This resulted in very slow and laboured progress”.

“Only one diver could work at a time to clear the path to gain access. After 36 hours of continuous diving effort, Navy divers finally reached the second compartment behind the conning tower in the early hours today. They located and extricated three bodies from the submarine from the compartment,” he said.

The Navy spokesman said the bodies were severely disfigured and not identifiable due to severe burns.

“The bodies have been sent to naval hospital for possible DNA identification, which is likely to take some more time,” he said.

‘Finding any missing crew member alive unlikely’

He said the state of these bodies and conditions within the submarine leads to firm conclusion that finding any surviving personnel within the submarine is unlikely. “The damage and destruction within the submarine around the control room area indicates that the feasibility of locating bodies of personnel in the forward part of the submarine is also very remote as the explosion and very high temperatures, which melted steel within, would have incinerated the bodies too”. He, however, said Indian navy will continue to search every inch of the submerged submarine till all bodies are either located or it can be stated with finality that no bodies remain to be found.

The spokesman said Navy divers are trying to reach the interiors of the submarine to locate and extricate any remaining bodies that may still be trapped within. “Salvage of the submarine would only be attempted thereafter for which many alternatives including deploying professional salvers are also being considered. However, presently, gaining access to the submarine and locating bodies is the top priority”.

He said families of all the 18 missing crew members have been contacted by the Indian Navy and are being provided regular updates.

Indian Navy has already ordered Board of Inquiry to investigate the causes of the accident.

‘After explosions, weapon was ejected from submarine’

Indian TV news channel NDTV quoted a senior source in Indian navy as saying that submarine (INS Sindhurakshak) was fitted with torpedoes and Klub missiles.

“One of the missile was accidentally ejected during the explosions,” they said.

Indian Navy has so far ruled out sabotage and a recent recharging of the submarine’s batteries as the cause for the explosion which took place in the front compartment, where weapons are stored.

The submarine, which had suffered an accident in 2010, had recently returned from Russia after a two-and-a-half year upgrade of its electronic warfare and integrated weapons control systems.

The 2300-tonne Kilo class submarine, powered by a combination of diesel generators and electric batteries, had potent weapons package including the anti-ship ‘Club’ missiles.

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Faiz Ahmad / NationalTurk India News

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