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Russian nuclear submarine fire put out

  • 12-31-2011

The huge fire that engulfed a Russian nuclear submarine undergoing repairs in the northern Murmansk region has been put out, the emergency minister says.

Sergei Shoigu said radiation monitoring would also now go back to normal after being stepped up when the blaze started on wood decking near the Yekaterinburg.

Officials said there was no risk as its two reactors had been shut down. Nine people were hurt fighting the fire.

President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an investigation into the incident.

One of his deputy prime ministers has promised that the Yekaterinburg, a Delta-IV-class nuclear submarine, will be repaired within several months.

"According to preliminary information, the damage caused by the fire will not affect the ship's combat characteristics," Dmitriy Rogozin said.

'No radiation threat'

The Yekaterinburg had been inside a dry dock at the Roslyakovo shipyard - on the Barents Sea coast, 1,500 km (900 miles) north of Moscow - on Thursday when wooden scaffolding around it caught fire.

The blaze soon spread to the submarine's rubber-coated outer hull.

Television pictures showed thick smoke billowing from the top of the vessel as 11 fire crews doused the flames with water from helicopters and tug boats. The submarine was later partially submerged in an effort to extinguish the blaze.

The fire was contained at 01:40 on Friday (21:40 GMT on Thursday), according to the emergency situations ministry, but by the morning, the submarine was still smouldering, and firefighters were still working at the scene, pouring water over the outer hull as well as the space between it and the inner hull, reports said.

A law enforcement source told Russian news agencies that seven servicemen at the shipyard and two emergency ministry personnel had suffered from smoke inhalation.

On Friday afternoon, Mr Shoigu told a meeting of officials the fire had been "put out completely", and that there was "no open burning".

He said that the cooling of the submarine's hull would continue.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2011 BBC

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