New Delhi, Aug. 19: Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Monday briefed Rajya Sabha members about the recent tragedy onboard the INS Sindhurakshak, and said that ignition of armament was the likely cause of the calamity.
“Preliminary investigations indicate that the explosion was due to the possible ignition of armament. The cause of ignition is, however, yet to be established. Visual and forensic examination would throw more light into the possible cause of ignition. This will be possible only after the submarine is afloat and dewatered,” Antony said.
“A Board of Inquiry with all relevant specialists has been constituted to investigate the likely causes of the accident at the earliest. In addition, extensive checks on weapon related safety systems and audit of Standard Operating Procedures on all operational submarines of the Indian Navy have been ordered.” he added.
Antony told the Rajya Sabha that internationally acclaimed professional salvage agencies have been approached to investigate the calamity.
“Globally renowned professional salvage agencies have been approached and they are undertaking the survey for salvage operations. There is also an offer of help from Russia, where the refit and upgrade had been undertaken,” Antony said.
Antony also assured that the government will continue to extend all the support required to the families of the victims, and announced that a special family cell has been formed for its purpose in Mumbai.
“I would like to assure that all support, assistance and counselling will be provided to the families of the 18 naval personnel. A special family cell has been formed at Western Naval Command in Mumbai for this purpose. We convey our deepest condolence to the families of the Indian Navy personnel who have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty,” Antony said.
In all, 18 naval duty personnel, including three officers and 15 sailors, were inside the submarine at the time of the mishap.
Antony said that although full details are yet to emerge, the rapidity and intensity of the explosion and the resultant damage sustained by the submarine indicate that the personnel would not have survived.
According to latest reports, seven bodies of victims from the tragedy, which occurred on the night between August 13 and 14, have been recovered from INS Sindhurakshak. (ANI)