Major fire on Russian nuclear submarine is extinguished


MOSCOW – Firefighters have extinguished a massive fire aboard a docked Russian nuclear submarine as some crew members remain inside, officials say.

There was no radiation leak and the vessel’s nuclear-tipped missiles were not on board, they said.

Military prosecutors are investigating whether safety regulations were breached. President Dmitry Medvedev summoned cabinet officials to report on the fire and demanded punishment for anyone found responsible.

The blaze broke out on Thursday at an Arctic shipyard outside the northwestern Russian city of Murmansk, where the Yekaterinburg was in dry-dock.

The blaze was extinguished yesterday and firefighters continued to spray the vessel with water, emergency situations minister Sergei Shoigu said.

Seven members of the crew were taken to hospital after inhaling carbon monoxide fumes.

An unspecified number of crew remained inside the submarine during the fire, the defence ministry said. It was unclear whether they were trapped or ordered to remain. A spokesman claimed there never was any danger of the fire spreading inside the vessel.

Norway’s Radiation Protection Authority across the border reported that it had not measured any increased radioactivity. The authority, along with the governor of Finnmark, Norway’s northeastern province bordering Russia, complained over the Russian response to the incident. The governor, Gunnar Kjoennoey, said: “We have an agreement to exchange information in such cases, but there has been no information from the Russian side so far.”

Russia’s military says the blaze started on wooden scaffolding and then engulfed the sub’s outer hull. The vessel’s nuclear reactor had been shut down, it said.

Nikolai Kalistratov, a former director of the biggest shipyard in the area, said the fire was probably caused by failure to take proper safety precautions such as coating the scaffolding with special sprays to make it fire-resistant. – (AP)