15 hospitalised after Russia nuclear sub fire
17 September 2013, 14:30
Moscow - Russian investigators on Tuesday said 15 servicemen had been hospitalised after a fire during repairs on a nuclear-powered submarine in the Far East, with the vessel sustaining significant damage.
The Russian Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes in Russia, said it had opened a criminal probe into suspected abuse of authority over the fire on the Tomsk submarine in the Bolshoi Kamen shipyard in the Russian Far East.
"The Tomsk partly lost some of its functional characteristics" as a result of the fire, the investigators said, without giving further details on the nature of the damage.
"The health of 15 servicemen was harmed and they are now receiving treatment in a military hospital," the statement said. It did not give further details on the nature of the injuries.
Initial reports about the fire on Monday morning on the Tomsk made no mention of the injuries or the damage to the vessel.
Reports on Monday said that the staff were evacuated after the fire, which took place during welding operations. The fire was said to have produced smoke rather than an open blaze.
Officials emphasised that the submarine's reactor had long been shut off and posed no danger of radiation leaks.
Russia's ageing fleet of nuclear-powered submarines has long been the subject of safety concerns. The rubberised coating on the Delta IV class submarine Yekaterinburg caught fire in a major blaze in December 2011, injuring nine people.
Reports later said that the vessel was armed with long-range missiles.