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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fire aboard Russian nuclear sub kills two

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A fire broke out aboard a Russian nuclear submarine belonging to the Northern Fleet late on Wednesday, killing two of its crew, the Defense Ministry said.

The submarine was anchored north off the Rybachiy peninsula near the Finnish border when it caught fire, Interfax news agency reported, quoting navy sources. The agency said there was no threat of a radiation leak.

The submarine was now being towed to the port of Vedyayevo, a base for Russian submarines in the Barents Sea, Interfax said.

"There was a fire, we can confirm that it happened. Two people were killed," a Defense Ministry spokesman said. He said a fuller statement would be released later.

Interfax quoted a navy source as saying: "The fire was extinguished at midnight. It broke out in the electromechanical compartment. The device protecting the nuclear reactor was enacted. There is no radioactive contamination threat whatsoever."

Russia's Northern Fleet has been dogged by accidents. The worst in recent years was when the Kursk submarine sank in the Barents Sea six years ago, killing all 118 people on board.

Last year, the British navy helped rescue the crew of a Russian navy mini-submarine that was stranded 600 feet down in the Pacific with dwindling air supplies.
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