Sunday, November 09, 2008

Russian submarine tragedy

This news has been widely reported, but the report by the Australian ABC News provides a more thorough summary than others:

Recently Russia has been showing it's not afraid to flex its military muscle once more, from the August conflict with Georgia to far-ranging naval exercises.

Yet the building of that image has received a tragic blow, with a nuclear submarine accident off Russia's far east coast that has left 20 dead.

While President Dmitry Medvedev has quickly ordered an investigation into the incident, at least one military expert says this submarine accident is yet another indication that the Russian defence industry is in dire need of modernisation.

The nuclear submarine, known as the Nerpa, had not even begun service when it was undergoing trials in the Sea of Japan, with a reported 208 people on board.

About 80 were servicemen, the rest were specialists and workers from the shipyard where the submarine was built.

Naval officials say that for some reason, the fire extinguishing system was activated, releasing a lethal gas into the front of the craft.

Vladimir Markin from the investigation committee of the Russian Prosecutor General's office, has told Russian television that the deaths were caused by freon gas filling the lungs of the victims.

More than 20 injured were transferred to another navy ship and brought to shore near the city of Vladivostok, while the submarine returned to its temporary base on the far eastern coast.

Here's an AP file photo of one similar to Nerpa seen in Atlantic as shown by Yahoo News:

UPI reports that the 20 victims includes 6 sailors and 14 civilians and that
Officials described the incident as Russia's worst submarine accident since the sinking of the Kursk in 2000, which killed 118 sailors.
Oh well, may be it's time for Russia to get out of nuclear submarine business now! They can certainly make good use of their resources and talents for more useful endeavors.

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