A huge explosion and fire on an Indian submarine berthed at a Mumbai dockyard has killed a number of crew members, India’s defence minister has said.
AK Antony gave no further details but said he felt “sad” about those who lost their lives. Earlier the navy said 18 sailors had been trapped on board. SEE MORE AFTER CUT>>>
The blast on the INS Sindhurakshak took place after midnight and fire-fighters spent four hours putting out the blaze. Officials said the diesel-powered vessel was badly damaged.
It is not clear if Mr Antony was referring to deaths among the sailors still trapped on the submarine. One navy official told the BBC that “surviving an explosion of this huge scale” was rare. Many sailors managed to jump to safety after the blast. Rescue teams are on scene and some of the injured were taken to hospital. The submarine remains partly submerged at its berth.
Dramatic images on Indian television showed a large fireball illuminating the sky. Smoke from the blaze could be seen in many parts of the city.
A naval inquiry has been set up to look into the causes of the incident, but officials told the BBC they suspect it to be the result of an on-board error and not an act involving any outside agency.
The Russian-built submarine was upgraded recently at a cost of $80m (£52m). Russian firm Zvyozdochka, which refitted the submarine, said the vessel had been fully operational when it was returned to India in January.