18 sailors have died in an explosion aboard a Russian-built submarine operated by the Indian Navy in Mumbai this morning.
The cause of the blast of the diesel-powered submarine that recently underwent a major upgrade and refurbishing work in Russia is yet to be determined.
Speaking after the accident, India’s defence minister A K Antony described the explosion as one of the greatest tragedies of recent times.
"I feel sad ... about those navy personnel who lost their lives in the service of the country," he told reporters outside the parliament in New Delhi.
Several witnesses observed the explosion this morning with. Local TV news station Headlines Today even managed to acquire and have broadcasted a video of the explosion filmed by a bystander.
After the blast, the 16-year-old INS Sindhurakshak submarine caught fire, which took local fire-fighters two hours to extinguish. Afterwards, the vessel has been left half submerged at its berth in the naval dockyard in Mumbai.
INS Sindhurakshak is one of India’s 14 diesel-powered submarines. It returned to service about six months ago after undergoing a major overhaul in Russia.
The same vessel was involved in a 2010 explosion, which killed one sailor and injured two others. According to information available, the 2010 blast was caused by the battery compartment.
Indian Navy also operates two nuclear submarines - a Russian-built Nerpa submarine leased for a ten-year period from Russia and a domestically designed and built submarine that had its nuclear reactor activated this month.