An accident aboard a Russian nuclear-powered submarine making a test run in the Sea of Japan killed at least 20 people, officials said Sunday.
The nuclear reactor aboard the submarine was operating normally and radiation levels were normal after the accident Saturday, Russian navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo said.
The Associated Press
A Soviet-built Akula class nuclear submarine is moored at a harbor on the Pacific peninsula of Kamchatka, in this Saturday, July 29, 2007 file photo. An accident aboard a Russian nuclear-powered submarine similar to this one during sea trials in the Sea of Japan killed at least 20 people, officials said Sunday Nov. 9, 2008.(AP Photo/File)
The accident occurred when a fire-extinguishing system went into operation in error aboard the submarine, Dygalo and other officials said. The system is designed to release Freon coolant when activated, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency, which cited an official with Russia‘s top investigative agency.
It was unclear what activated the fire-extinguishing system.
The official, Sergei Markin, said 14 civilians and six sailors were killed and 22 others were hospitalized after being evacuated to a destroyer that brought them to the Pacific port of Vladivostok, ITAR-Tass reported.
Earlier, Dygalo said more than 20 people were killed, including sailors and workers from the shipyard that built the submarine, and that 21 were injured and hospitalized. He said there were 208 people aboard, including 81 servicemen. Officials did not reveal the name of the submarine.
It was Russia’s worst naval accident since torpedo explosions sank another nuclear-powered submarine, the Kursk, in the Barents Sea in 2000, killing all 118 seamen aboard. In 2003, 11 people died when a submarine that was being taken out of service also sank in the Barents Sea.