Death toll in Jalashwa gas leakage rises to six as sailor succumbs

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New Delhi, Feb 10 (UNI) The death toll due to the ''gas leakage'' in INS Jalashwa, India's second biggest warship and the only US-made vessel in the Indian Navy fleet, rose to six with one more sailor succumbing at a hospital here late last night, defence sources said today.

Lt Cdr Sweth Gupta, who got married about three months ago, died at the Army's Research and Referral Hospital here late last night.

Five sailors had died on board the troop carrier, previously known as USS Trenton, while it was engaged in a military exercise in deep sea between Vizag and Port Blair on February one.

The Navy had said the five died due to accidental inhalation of the poisonous hydrogen sulphide gas.

Three other sailors, including Lt Cdr Gupta, had fallen ''critically ill'' due to the inhalation of the obnoxious gas.

The Navy had also denied reports suggesting that the sailors were killed due to an explosion or fire in the amphibious transport vessel.

''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,'' a Navy spokesperson had clarified.

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 Bay of Bengal where the two Indian naval fleet -- Eastern and Western -- were pitted against each other in a mock battle.

The Navy has constituted a Board of Inquiry to probe the cause of the accident.

Lt Cdr Gupta along with two others -- Lt Ruchir Prasad and Electrician Mechanic Power Yatish Pawar -- had been airlifted to the capital from Port Blair and admitted to the Army hospital on February two.

The other five dead were 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.

The Indian Navy had purchased the warship 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 Jalashwa is second in size to INS Viraat, the Indian Navy's sole aircraft carrier.

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