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The navy base in Severomorsk.
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Deep-sea fire kills 14 Russian Navy sailors

Source: Meduza
The navy base in Severomorsk.
The navy base in Severomorsk.
Ivan Timofeyev / Photobank Lori

14 Russian sailors were killed during a fire on a naval deep-sea vessel, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported. The incident occurred on July 1 but was only reported publicly the following day. The cause of the sailors’ deaths was poisoning by toxic substances released during the fire. The cause of the fire itself is not yet known, and its victims have not yet been named. The Defense Ministry noted that the fire ignited while the crew was conducting depth measurements in Russian waters. The source of the fire has been extinguished, and the vessel has been transported to the navy base at Severomorsk. Russia’s Investigative Committee has begun a preliminary investigation into the deaths of the submarine sailors. Naval Commander-in-Chief Nikolai Yevmenov is leading the Defense Ministry’s investigation of the fire.

The vessel that was burned is reportedly either the BS-64 submarine Podmoskovye, the BS-64 submarine Orenburg, or the AS-12 atomic deep-sea station Losharik. Two sources interviewed by Otkrytye Media each referred to one of the submarines while sources told both RBC and Novaya Gazeta that the fire had taken place on the Losharik. The Defense Ministry did not specify which craft was affected aside from reporting that it was a research vessel. Open-source data indicates that the Orenburg is the carrier vessel for the AS-12 model, which was developed in the late 1980s. The Orenburg is in the service of Russia’s Northern Fleet. The Losharik station, which can carry up to 25 people, took part in a 2012 expedition to the Lomonosov Ridge, where it gathered data that enabled Russia to claim expanded borders on the Arctic shelf.

Some of the sailors on board may have survived the fire. The Defense Ministry did not issue any information about survivors but noted that the fire was extinguished thanks to the “selfless actions” of the station’s crew. Meanwhile, sources told Novaya Gazeta that the compartment where the flames broke out was sealed off after the fire began. Baza reported that four or five people were injured in the fire and subsequently diagnosed with poisoning and contusions. The injured sailors have been transported to the Defense Ministry’s naval clinical hospital in Severomorsk. Mash wrote that only one person died during the fire itself while the rest died in the hospital or on their way to it.

The local news outlet Severomorsk Life published a story about the fire before any official announcement was made. It then deleted the story from its website. Kommersant journalist Alexander Chernykh posted a screenshot of the article on Telegram. It cites anonymous sources who said an explosion and a fire had taken place on a submarine in Severomorsk the previous night, causing 10 to 14 deaths and five to 10 injuries. Chernykh wrote that the story was published at 11:30 AM local time on July 2, approximately five hours before the Defense Ministry gave official notice of the fire. The story has been deleted, but its headline can still be found in a Google search. Severomorsk Life Editor-in-Chief Yevgeny Karpov told Meduza that he deleted the article after he was asked to “take that article off and cite official sources.” He did not specify who had called him but said he had received “comments” from the Navy’s press service.

Story by Olga Korelina

Translation and updates by Hilah Kohen