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2 missing Indian navy officers found dead in sub

27 February 2014, 17:25

New Delhi - Rescuers found the bodies of two Indian navy officers inside a naval submarine on Thursday, one day after the men went missing following an accident aboard the vessel, an official said.

Seven sailors were overcome by smoke on Wednesday during a training exercise in the submarine off Mumbai's coast, but two officers were unaccounted for following the incident.

Rescuers who boarded the submarine after it reached port Thursday found the officers' bodies, a Defense Ministry official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters. He did not give any further details.

The seven sailors who were overcome by smoke were in stable condition at a Mumbai hospital, said Captain DK Sharma, a navy spokesperson.

Sharma said investigators were investigating what caused the smoke.

Navy chief Administrator DK Joshi resigned on Wednesday to take responsibility for the accident and other incidents that have plagued the navy in recent years. The government accepted his resignation.

Operational capabilities

Last August, another of the navy's Russian-made diesel-powered submarines, the INS Sindhurakshak, caught fire after an explosion and sank at its home port in Mumbai, killing all 18 sailors on board.

In December, the INS Talwar, a Russian-built stealth frigate, slammed into a trawler off India's west coast, sinking the boat and tossing 27 fishermen into the sea. All of the fishermen were rescued.

Another navy frigate ran aground near the Mumbai naval base in January, damaging some equipment. And earlier this month, the INS Airavat, an amphibious warfare vessel, ran aground and its commanding officer was stripped of his duties, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

Sameer Patil, a defence analyst with the Mumbai-based think tank Indian Council on Global Relations, said delays in the acquisition of new submarines to replace an inadequate and aging fleet were taking its toll on the operational capabilities of the Indian navy.

"This is unfortunate because the Indian navy is spearheading India's co-operative engagement with the Indian Ocean region, and policy makers need to pay close attention to our naval fleet," he said.

- AP

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