Eighteen sailors are thought to have been trapped inside the submarine that exploded and sank in a dockyard in Mumbai, but diver's rescue is more of a salvage job, experts say.
Unidentified bodies retrieved from stricken Indian submarine
NEW DELHI // Indian navy divers yesterday recovered the first four bodies from the INS Sindhurakshak, the submarine that exploded and sank in a dockyard in Mumbai this week.
Eighteen sailors are thought to have been trapped inside the partially submerged vessel. But retrieving bodies has taken more than two days because the submarine’s hatches were fused shut in the heat of
Wednesday’s explosion. Divers are also struggling because of poor visibility in the water.
The bodies are “severely disfigured and not identifiable due to severe burns”, the navy said. They have been sent to hospital to be identified through DNA analysis.
“The state of these … bodies and conditions within the submarine leads to firm conclusion that finding any surviving personnel within the submarine is unlikely.
“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 explosion ravaged the area around the control room of the submarine, and the “very high temperatures, which melted steel within, would have incinerated the bodies too”.
C Uday Bhaskar, a retired naval commodore, said that the navy’s divers were conducting “not so much a rescue as salvage”.
“Something triggered an explosion which caused extensive damage, which led to the boat going nose down,” he said. “It is now stuck in the mud, and you can only see the fin. You have to pull it out, and the submarine weighs 2,000 tonnes.”
The navy is considering Dutch as well as Singaporean salvage companies to bring up the Russian-made Sindhurakshak, according to media reports.
That the submarine sank in the dock was “an unprecedented event, not just for the Indian navy for but for any navy around the world”, he said. “Given the nature of the accident, the navy is responding in the most appropriate way and to the best of the its ability.”
* Additional reporting by Suryatapa Bhattacharya