First reports said that 18 sailors were on board an Indian submarine which exploded and partially sank in a naval dockyard in Mumbai. India’s defense minister A. K. Antony confirmed that at least twelve military personnel had been killed.
When the accident happened, a huge fireball shot into the sky. Sailors went diving into the sea as the vessel began to at least partially sink below the surface.
This was India’s worst naval disaster since its 1971 war with Pakistan.
“There was an explosion immediately after midnight in the forward side of the submarine, where missiles and torpedoes are kept to be used whenever necessary,” a naval source told Reuters. “Now the submarine is tilted on the front side and all hatches are closed. They are trying to open those now.”
A reason for the explosion has not been released. Some of the sailors on deck either jumped to safety, or were thrown off by the force. Fear that more than a dozen are trapped inside has divers frantically attempting to open the hatches. Several personnel who were either on or near the submarine have been rushed to the hospital.
The INS Sindhurakshak exploded somewhere around midnight. Fire brigades battled the blaze for over three hours, working to stop the fire from spreading to nearby ships. The INS Sindhuratna was closest to the submarine, and had to be towed to a safe location.
Officials say that when the boat is fully operational, there is a crew of 110.
An investigation has been launched to determine if the explosion was an accident or caused by another source.
At least twelve sailors are dead aboard an Indian submarine which exploded and partially sank.