Mumbai, Aug 16: There were no likely survivors on the INS Sindhurakshak submarine which sufferred two explosions, caught fire and sank here early Wednesday with 18 personnel on board, the Indian Navy said Friday.
“The state of …(the three recovered bodies) and conditions within the submarine
leads to the firm conclusion that finding any surviving personnel within the submarine is unlikely,” the Indian Navy said in a statement.
“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 added.
The three bodies that have been located and extricated from the submarine “are severely disfigured and not identifiable due to severe burns,” the statement said, adding the bodies have been sent to INHS Asvini, the naval hospital, for possible DNA identification “which is likely to take some more time”.
“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.
It said navy diving teams have been working non-stop to reach into the compartments of the submarine since rescue operations commenced at noon on Wednesday.
“The boiling waters inside the submarine prevented any entry” till Wednesday noon.
“Access to the inner compartments of the submarine was made almost impossible due to jammed doors and hatches, distorted ladders, oily and muddy waters inside the submerged submarine resulting in total darkness and nil visibility…even with high-power underwater lamps.
“Distorted and twisted metal within very restricted space due extensive internal damage caused by the explosion further worsened conditions for the divers. This resulted in very slow and laboured progress,” the statement said.
Only one diver could work at a time to clear the path to gain access, the statement said, adding that after 36 hours of “continuous diving effort in these conditions”, navy divers finally reached the second compartment behind the conning tower in the early hours of Friday.
The navy said it was concentrating on reaching the interiors of the submarine to “locate and extricate any remaining bodies that may still be trapped within”.
“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,” the navy said.
The families of all the 18 missing personnel have been contacted “and are being provided regular updates through constant interaction” by the Family Cell headed by a rear admiral and members of the Navy Wives Welfare Association.
The cause of the explosions and a raging fire – to which the submarine succumbed within six hours and sank – is still not clear nearly three days after the incident.