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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russian defense official denies doomed sub meant for India

RIA Novosti

12/11/2008 16:18 MOSCOW, November 12 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian defense industry official denied on Wednesday that talks had been held with India on the delivery of the nuclear submarine on board which 20 people died last weekend.

"Russia did not launch talks on a contract to supply India with the Nerpa nuclear-powered submarine," the official said.

The tragedy occurred late on Saturday while the Nerpa nuclear-powered submarine was undergoing sea trials in the Sea of Japan. Three submariners and 17 shipyard workers died in the accident. There were 208 people, 81 of them submariners, on board the vessel at the time.

Investigators said the deaths were caused by suffocation after Freon gas was released following the activation of the submarine's fire safety system. It has been suggested that human error could have been a factor in the accident.

The incident is the worst for the Russian Navy since the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000 when all 118 sailors died.

The construction of the Akula II class Nerpa nuclear attack submarine started in 1991, but was suspended for over a decade due to a lack of funding. Akula II class vessels are considered the quietest and deadliest of all Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines.

The Nerpa started sea trials on October 27.

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