Obnoxious gas killed 5 on board INS Jalashva, Navy clarifies

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New Delhi, Feb 2 (UNI) Inhalation of poisonous hydrogen sulphide gas and not an explosion or fire had resulted in the death of five sailors on board the latest warship INS Jalashva last evening, the Indian Navy said today.

In a statement here, a Navy spokesperson denied there wasan explosion or fire in the troop carrier, previously known as USS Trenton, while it was engaged in a military exercise in deep sea between Vizag and Port Blair last evening.

He said the accident was caused by hydrogen sulphide gas that the sailors inhaled accidentally.

''Further inputs indicate that the accident was the result of the inadvertent inhalation of obnoxious and poisonous H2S (Hydrogen Sulphide) gas by the repair party carrying out maintenance in one of the ship's compartment and not due to fire or any other causes.'' The Indian Navy had already constituted a Board of Inquiry to probe the cause of the accident.

The spokesperson identified the dead as Shipwright Artificer K V R Krishna Rao, Shipwright Artificer D R Kumar Chaitanya, Leading Electrician Mechanic Radio Ramesh Kumar Nayak, Sea1 Deepak Shivran and Electrician Mechanic Power Narendra Yadav.

Three other sailors were also wounded in the accident on the amphibious transport vessel. They have been identified as Lt Cdr Sweth Gupta, Lt Ruchir Prasad and Electrician Mechanic Power Yatish Pawar.

The spokesperson described the condition of one of the wounded sailors as serious and said the other two were stable.

He said the injured personnel were being air transported from the ship to Port Blair for further medical treatment.

Arrangement for further transportation of the deceased personnel have been made in conjunction with IAF, the spokesperson added.

The Indian Navy had purchased the ship from the US Navy early last year in a 48 million dollar deal that included six helicopters.

It was inducted into the Indian Navy in September 2007 after serving the US Navy for 36 years.

INS Jalashva is the second biggest warship and the only US-made vessel in the Indian fleet. It is second in size to INS Viraat, the Indian Navy's sole aircraft carrier.

Initial reports had suggested that the explosion occurred in the sewage system of the warship when it was participating in a major exercise -- Tropex -- in the Arabian Sea where the two Indian naval fleet -- Eastern and Western -- are pitted against each other in a mock battle.

UNI AG VD AS1542

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