Navy sets up high-level probe in submarine mishap

The Navy has constituted a high-level inquiry headed by an officer of the rank of Rear Admiral to look into all the submarine mishaps, including yesterday's one, even as efforts to trace the two officers missing yielded no results.

Seven sailors had taken seriously ill and two officers have been missing following the mishap in submarine INS Sindhuratna, off the Mumbai coast, yesterday.

"A high-level inquiry headed by an officer of Rear Admiral-rank has been constituted and has immediately commenced its proceedings to establish the cause of all (submarine) incidents and to recommend steps for continuing safe operations of submarines," a statement by the Western Naval Command said here today.

The release also said that submarine INS Sindhuratna has returned to Mumbai harbour.

"Search for two missing crew members - both of Lieutenant Commander rank - is continuing and every effort is underway to ventilate the submarine and locate them," it further said.

"Two officials are unaccounted for. They might have been left in the cabin or at some other place as various cabins and compartments are isolated as part of the emergency measures," Navy officials had said yesterday.

INS Sindhuratna was at sea off Mumbai for routine training and workup (inspection) in the early hours of yesterday when smoke was reported in the sailors' accommodation, in compartment number three, of the submarine.

Smoke engulfed the Russian-made submarine and the seven affected sailors had to be airlifted to the naval hospital INS Ashwini. Their condition is reported to be stable.

Hours after the mishap and in the wake of a spate of accidents involving the Naval warships in the recent past, Navy Chief Admiral D K Joshi had yesterday resigned taking moral responsibility.

Yesterday's incident was the 10th mishap involving Navy warships in the last seven months.

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