Sindhurakshak live: Navy divers open critical second access to the vessel

Tracking live updates and the latest information about the fire and explosion aboard the submarine INS Sindhurakshak that broke out early this morning.

Ayeshea Perera August 17, 2013 13:40:28 IST

1.40 pm: Navy divers open critical second access to the submerged submarine

The navy divers managed to open a second access to the sunken vessel during an overnight "challenging but critical" operation.

"The divers have gained a second access to the submarine late last night when they successfully prised open the rear escape hatch which was submerged below and jammed due to high temperature," a release from the Navy said, terming the operation as "challenging but critical."

Also, opening of the jammed forward escape hatch is being attempted for an entry to the front portion of the submarine, it said.

1.20 pm: Autopsy of 5 navy men reveals death due to burns and drowning

The autopsy conducted on five navy men, whose bodies were extricated from submarine INS Sindhurakshak, has found that they died due to severe burns and drowning, even as divers today continued search operations for other personnel who were on board.

Doctors at the state-run J J Hospital here have completed post-mortem on the bodies, sources said.

"DNA samples and dental marks have been taken (to ascertain their identity)," an official said, adding all these will be sent for forensic analysis.

For more, click here.

-- End of updates for August 16, 2013 --

10.00 pm: Five "severely disfigured" bodies recovered, survivors unlikely

"Severely disfigured" bodies of five sailors have been recovered from the 2300-ton ill-fated submarine by the Navy divers, reported IANS.

"Efforts to trace and retrieve the other 13 bodies of sailors are underway on a war footing and we are hopeful of further recoveries by late this evening," an official said.

The navy has said that finding any more survivors is unlikely as the explosion and very high temperatures have incarcerated the bodies as well, the navy officials have said.

The recovered bodies have been sent to the JJ Hospital for autopsy and DNA tests.

8.05 pm: US, France, Germany offer help to bring out bodies from submarine

Many countries including the US and France have offered help to India in its ongoing operations to bring out bodies in the sunken submarine INS Sindhurakshak.

Navy sources here said that if there is need, assistance may be sought from these countries.

Soon after the mishap, countries like the US, France and Germany had offered help to the Indian authorities in the rescue operations of the submarine which sank after a blast with 18 people on board.

3.07 pm: One more body found, 14 personnel still missing

Navy divers have now recovered four bodies from the ill-fated INS Sindhurakshak submarine, while 14 bodies are still to be found.

The Navy, in a statement released earlier today, said it was unlikely that there would be any survivors given the condition of the bodies that were recovered.

"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," the statement read.

1.35 pm: State of bodies forces conclusion that there are no survivors, says Navy statement

The Navy has said that the state of the bodies they found inside the INS Sindhurakshak submarine leads them to believe that finding any survivors is unlikely. In a statement issued to the press the Navy said, "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. However, the 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 statement added that the 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.

11.43 am: Bodies recovered aboard Sindhurakshak unidentifiable, says navy

The navy has said that although they have managed to find three bodies aboard the INS Sindhurakshak submarine, they have been badly charred and are presently unidentifiable. They have been sent to hospital for DNA identification.

In a statement, the navy added that teams comprising eight divers each were searching the vessel for any possible sign of life although it was highly unlikely that anyone would have been able to survive.

The diving efforts have been hampered by poor visibility inside the submarine which is filled with water, extremely restricted access and displacement of most equipment from their original location.

The Navy is also planning to seek help from a Dutch company to salvage the sunken warship.

According to the Navy, the heat of the explosion has melted parts of the internal hull deforming the submarine hatches and has prevented access to the compartments. Heavy duty pumps are being used to pump out the water from the submarine, it has said, adding there has been large scale ingress of sea water into the submarine due to the
10.55 am: Three bodies found, 15 still missing

Expert divers have managed to recover three bodies from the ill-fated submarine INS Sindhurakshak.

However this tweet from Headlines Today editor Shiv Aroor which describes the state of the bodies, does not bode well:

The Navy has said in a statement that the bodies have been severely disfigured due to severe burns, and are not identifiable. They have also admitted for the first time that it is very unlikely that they will find survivors.

10.18 am: Bodies of two sailors found on submarine

Bodies of two sailors have been found on board submarine INS Sindhurakshak that has sunk in Mumbai.

Sixteen bodies of sailors and officers are yet to be recovered from the submarine and the Indian Navy is considering calling in a Singapore based firm to carry out salvage operations.

The Navy is likely to brief the media this noon.

9.16 am: No word on 18 missing, Navy to make statement this noon

Even after more than 56 hours of the twin blasts, there is no word about the 18 Navy officials who have been trapped in the submarine.

Navy divers have been unable to make contact or reach the men trapped because of poor visibility, restricted space and the melted hull. The Navy is likely to make a statement this afternoon.

The list of missing INS Sindhurakshak crew:

Officers - Rank
Nikhilesh Pal - Lieutenant Commander
Alok Kumar - Lieutenant Commander
R Venkitaraj - Lieutenant commander

Sailors - Rank
Sanjeev Kumar - PO UW I
KC Upadhyay - PO UW I
Timothy Sinha - PO UW I
Kewal Singh - LS UC I
Sunil Kumar - SEA I UW III
Dasari Prasad - MECH(R) 2
Liju Lawrence - LEMP
Rajesh Tootika - LME
Amit K Singh - STD I
Atul Sharma - SEA I
Vikas E - SEA I
Naruttam Deuri - ME I
Malay Haldar - EMR II
Vishnu V - RO II
Seetaram Badapalli - LS RP I

9. 10 am: Navy to seek help from Singapore firm?

The Indian Navy is considering taking assistance of a Singapore-based company to salvage the ill-fated submarine INS Sindurakshak, DNA reported.

“Under the present situation, we may not be having the capability to salvage it... we require help of professionals. The name of a Singapore-based professional firm has come for consideration and we may hire it for the job,” a naval source told DNA.

-- Updates for 14, 15 August end -- 

8.30 pm:  All aboard submarine Sindhurakshak  feared dead 

Terming INS Sindhurakshak incident as a "catastrophe", Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi today indicated there was little hope of survival of 18 personnel on board the submarine, which exploded and sank at the naval dockyard here.

CNN-IBN reports that fire fighters who were at the site said that the impact of the multiple explosions was such, that not only the naval assets in the vicinity suffered damage but also parts of the Submarine's debris were scattered in the area

4.45 pm: Board of inquiry to submit results in four weeks

The naval board of inquiry which was ordered soon after the incident, will submit its findings in four weeks, said the Naval chief.

4.39 pm: Cause of fire not yet known, says Navy chief

While saying that they could not rule out any cause, including that of sabotage, the navy chief said that it was highly likely that the cause of fire was an onboard situation.

He refused to comment on the status of the personnel aboard, saying that although it was extremely remote that they would have survived, there was a possibility that some of them could have found an air pocket, or a breathing kit. He said that divers had only just breached the first hatch of the submarine.

"The heat of the vessel had fused the hatch shut", he said.

4.30 pm: Hope for best, prepare for worst says Navy

Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi has said that divers have been able to enter the INS Sindhurakshak and are in the process of trying to create three watertight compartments which they will use to try and lighten the vessel and have it float to the surface.

He says that of the 18 personnel, two officers and seven sailors were married. While he did not confirm the fact that they were dead, he said "We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst".

Joshi also told media that there had been absolutely no contact with the trapped personnel, saying that given the rapidity of the fire, there would have been next to no reaction time for the sailors onboard.

Speaking about the ship itself, he said the ship had done more than a 1000 dive hours. "The crew is virtually the same. For commanding officer it is the fourth command. Last month she underwent a process of certification and came out with highly satisfactory gradings".

4.25 pm: Navy says 18 personnel aboard Sindhurakshak dead

Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi has confirmed that all 18 personnel trapped aboard the INS Sindhurakshak have been killed.

Addressing the media Joshi said that the fire spread rapidly. He confirmed that the explosion happened in torpedo compartment and the submarine had sunk due to entrance of water along with the water that was used to douse the fire.

He also said that as of yet they did not know what caused the fire and explosions. "We don't have the answer as of now. There are several ingredients that can cause a fire", he said.

4.12 pm: AK Antony expresses grief over Sindurakshak tragedy

AK Antony addressing the media from Mumbai, has expressed his heartfelt support to the families of the sailors who lost their lives in the tragedy, and said that relief and support would be given to them. He did not however mention how many people had lost their lives in the tragedy.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan also expressed his condolences and said that all hospitals and emergency services were on standby to give the navy all the help it required.

3.30 pm: Antony at site, no word on sailors yet

Defence Minister AK Antony has arrived at the Mumbai naval dockyard and is being briefed by officials. However there has been absolutely no official word from the navy yet, so we have no confirmation about the fate of the 18 naval personnel who were believed to be trapped aboard the submarine.

The Defence Minister made a reference to the 'dead' in the tragedy before leaving to Mumbai, but there has been no word after that.

There have been varying media reports on the fate of the sailors. Some have said that divers have been unable to free the trapped sailors, while others have said that they were immediately charred to death in the shock waves that emanated from the explosion.

We are expecting an official statement from the navy soon.

11.33 am: AK Antony 'sad' about lives lost

Defence Minister AK Antony is to visit the Mumbai naval dockyard where the INS Sindhurakshak caught fire. He is also scheduled to make a statement on the naval tragedy in Parliament. The BJP have demanded a statement in Parliament, but have been only told that this will be only possible once he returns from Mumbai. CNN-IBN reported that he has also briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the incident.

Speaking to the media Antony said that he was very sorry for the people who lost their lives. There has still been no official death toll announced, although 18 people were feared trapped inside the vessel when it went down. He said it was a 'great loss' to all of us. CNN-IBN is now reporting that there are 'many dead' in the tragedy.

Meanwhile Naval Chief Admiral DK Joshi has arrived in Mumbai where he will ascertain the damage to the vessel firsthand.

10.48 am: Second submarine, INS Sindhuratna also damaged in explosion

The explosion and fire aboard the INS Sindhurakshak has also damaged another submarine that was berthed next to the ill fated vessel at the Mumbai naval dockyard. The second submarine has now been identified as the INS Sindhuratna, reported Headlines Today.

The cause of the fire has not been officially revealed, but media channels quoting unnamed naval sources, have said that it is likely that the weapons aboard the fully loaded submarine detonated, causing the explosion.

Debris of missiles and boosters aboard INS Sindhurakshak have been found in the Mumbai naval dockyard, reported Times Now, virtually confirming that the warheads exploded. If this is indeed the case, it is unlikely that the vessel, which recently underwent a $18 million revamp in Russia, will ever see action again.

The fate of 18 personnel who were trapped on board the submarine is not known, although rescue and salvage operations are underway. Three officers were among the trapped, the navy said.

10.37 am: AK Antony to make statement in Parliament

Defence Minister AK Antony is likely to make a statement in Parliament on the explosion on Indian Navy submarine INS Sindhurakshak, reported India Today.

Naval Chief Admiral DK Joshi is also expected in Mumbai shortly, after which the navy will make a statement.

10.30 am: Milind Deora asks Port trust to help salvage ops

Milind Deora who is also a Minister of State with the Ministry of Shipping has tweeted that he has asked the Mumbai Port Trust to help with rescue operations.


10.00 am: Navy Chief Admiral D K Joshi is on his way to Mumbai

Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi is on his way to Mumbai to ascertain the situation after the explosion and fire aboard the INS Sindhurakshak submarine early this morning.

The navy has not issued an official statement as yet, but is expected to do so after Admiral Joshi's visit.

According to PTI, the incident has come at a time when the Navy is facing a situation of depleting submarine fleet.

9.21 am: Was cause of fire accidental weapons detonation?

There has been no official reason given for the explosion and fire that gutted the INS Sindhurakshak, but the fact that the fire took place in the forward area housing the submarine's torpedoes has given rise to speculation that the weapons aboard were accidentally detonated.

Headlines Today reported that the INS Sindhurakshak was all set for operations patrol at the time of the fire and it was fully loaded with all weapons, including torpedoes and cruise missiles.

Meanwhile DNA editor Saikat Datta tweeted that the INS Sindhurakshak doesn't have the rescue pods that most modern subs have to rescue the trapped 18 sailors.


9.10 am: 'The sky turned red with smoke and fire'

An eyewitness speaking to CNN-IBN has described the explosion that took place late last night at the Mumbai naval dockyard. "I was on my duty when I heard a loud sound. The sky had turned red with smoke and fire", he told the channel.


8.40 am: Fate of 18 personnel 'to be ascertained', says navy

The navy has said that the fate of the 18 personnel who were aboard the INS Sindhurakshak is yet to be ascertained. Rescue operations are underway, but it is unclear if any of the 18 personnel trapped aboard have survived the explosion and fire that took place in the forward area housing the submarine's torpedoes.

The navy has ordered a board of inquiry into the fire, but no other official information into the cause of the fire has been ascertained as yet.

Here is a YouTube video that gives more information about the Sindhurakshak submarine:

8.00 am: Board of Inquiry ordered into fire

A board of inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire that broke out aboard the Sindhurakshak submarine at the Mumbai naval dockyard.

There is no official reason given for the fire, which was preceded by a blast shortly after midnight. However CNN-IBN reports that possible reasons could be a gas leakage, or even pressure problems. The submarine was above water when the explosion occurred.

Sindhurakshak live Navy divers open critical second access to the vessel

Screengrab from CNN-IBN

Times Now reported that two thirds of the submarine was destroyed, and it was currently lying around 2-3 metres under water. If the navy does indeed lose the vessel, it will be a massive loss. The submarine was redone and refitted in Russia for a massive 18 million dollars recently.

Rescue and salvage operations are currently underway. Eighteen personnel including three officers are missing. Media reports indicate that many personnel had jumped off the vessel to safety after it caught fire.

The details of other casualty figures were not immediately available though some injured sailors have been rushed to naval hospital INHS Ashvini in Colaba.

The cause of the explosion and blaze, as well as the extent of damage to the submarine and naval properties, is still not known.

7.00 am: Indian naval submarine Sindhurakshak catches fire

A fire broke out in a submarine, named Sindhurakshak, between Lion Gate and Seta Gate late on Tuesday night at Naval Dockyard in Mumbai.

CNN-IBN said that preliminary reports suggested that there was some explosive material present in the ship which may have caught fire.

At least 16 fire tenders of Mumbai Fire Brigade and Mumbai Port Trust were rushed to assist the naval fire brigade to douse the conflagration, the smoke emanating from which could be seen in many parts of south Mumbai.

A fire brigade official said the blaze had been brought under control at around 3am and prevented from spreading to other vessels docked in the vicinity.

The blast was first heard ashore by deputy chief fire office PS Rahandale who was on leave and attending a private engagement near the Gateway of India promenade. He immediately alerted the fire brigade and other emergency services.

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