Crew 'still aboard' burning Russian nuclear submarine
Some crew members were still aboard a Russian nuclear submarine ablaze early Friday after its hull caught fire during shipyard repairs but there was no radiation threat, officials said.
"A part of the crew is on board the submarine and is monitoring the temperature and carbon dioxide parameters in all sections of the boat," RIA Novosti quoted a defence ministry statement as saying.
The 11,740-tonne Yekaterinburg, one of Russia's most powerful nuclear submarines, was undergoing repairs in the northern region of Murmansk near Norway when some wooden structures in the shipyard caught fire on Thursday.
The flames spread quickly to the outer hull of the submarine and continued to burn overnight despite a massive salvage operation involving 11 fire brigades along with several helicopters and a navy fire boat.
Nine firemen were suffering from smoke inhalation, an emergency situations ministry source was quoted as saying.
The local emergencies ministry said the radiation levels on board the vessel were normal and posed no threat because its two nuclear reactors had been switched off before repairs.
"These parameters are within the limits of natural radiation fluctuation levels. There is no threat to the population," the Murmansk emergencies ministry said in a statement.
The submarine was also stripped of its 16 inter-continental ballistic missiles and conventional rockets, defence officials said.
It was not immediately clear how many crew members were aboard the boat. Russian news reports said the Yekaterinburg can carry up to 140 seamen.
The flames was first reported to be contained overnight but defence officials said the craft continued to smoulder on Friday morning and that fire fighters were still working on the scene.
"There are no open flames," a defence ministry statement said.
© 2011 AFP