India navy investigates deadly ship accident
Ships and submarines belonging to the Indian Navy are seen docked at the naval dockyard in Mumbai - REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
AFP

MUMBAI: The Indian navy launched an inquiry Saturday into the cause of a naval ship accident that killed an officer and injured two dock workers, officials said.

A gas leak Friday on board the yet-to-be commissioned INS Kolkata killed Commander Kuntal Wadhwa after he inhaled carbon dioxide during trials, according to reports.

“An inquiry has been ordered by the navy since it is a case of unnatural death. We should expect the report in few weeks time,” Commander Rahul Sinha, chief defense ministry spokesman, told AFP.

The accident occurred on the ship, called Yard 701 by its builders, the Mazagaon Dock Ltd, in Mumbai, headquarters of India’s Western Naval Command.

The ship was undergoing tests at the Mumbai Port Trust when its carbon dioxide unit developed a problem, causing the gas leakage and injuries, the defense ministry said.

The two injured workers were briefly hospitalized and “treated for carbon dioxide inhalation”, Parvez Panthanky, a spokesman for the Mazagaon Dock, told AFP.

The accident was the 11th involving a naval vessel in the past 11 months, the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party said.

The ship is set to be the first in a new class of destroyers, but the accident would delay its commissioning, the navy spokesman said.

The Indian Navy has been without a chief since Admiral D.K. Joshi resigned last month after a fire on one of the country’s submarines, the INS Sindhuratna, killed two officers.

Indian Navy ships have been hit by a series of accidents in the past few months with the worst involving the INS Sindurakshak, a submarine which burst into flames in Mumbai harbor last August, killing 18 sailors and sinking the vessel.

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