India Sub Crew Burned Beyond Recognition; 3 Bodies Found

The Indian navy rescued sailors from one of its Russian-built Kilo class submarines following an accident off the coast of Mumbai, a mishap that brought back memories of fire and explosions aboard a similar boat in August that killed 18 men and left no survivors.

Seven of the crew were airlifted and treated for smoke inhalation on the INS Sindhuratna, which was inducted into the Indian Navy in 1988, Rahul Sinha, a Mumbai-based spokesman for the nation’s navy, said in a telephone interview. Two sailors were missing, Associated Press reported, citing D.K. Sharma, another spokesman.

The nation’s naval ships in the area were coordinating the rescue mission as efforts were on to locate the missing men, Sinha said. India’s navy has a fleet of 16 submarines, including 10 diesel-electric Kilo class vessels. They have a maximum diving depth of 300 meters (984 feet), a top speed of 18 knots and are able to operate for 45 days with a crew of 53 people, according to the navy’s website.

There have been several accidents aboard Russian-made submarines in the past 15 years. Twenty Russians died on a vessel when a faulty firefighting system was accidentally activated during trials in the Sea of Japan in 2008. The Kursk sank in August 2000 after an onboard explosion in the Barents Sea, killing all 118 on board.

In a Mumbai dockyard early on Aug. 14, explosions and fire inside the INS Sindhurakshak caused temperature to soar high enough to melt steel, jamming doors and hatches and twisting ladders. That was the worst submarine accident in the country’s history and the biggest setback for the navy since the loss of a warship in 1971 during a conflict with Pakistan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew MacAskill in New Delhi at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at

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