At least 14 submariners were killed in a fire on a deep-water research apparatus in Russian territorial waters, the Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday.
According to a ministry statement, the submariners died as a result of poisoning with combustion gas.
“The causes of the incident are being established,” RIA Novosti news agency quoted the statement as saying.
It said that the accident took place on Monday on a submersible designed to “conduct studies in the interests of the Russian Navy.”
The fire had been put out by the crew and the vessel was towed to Russia’s Severomorsk naval base, the statement said.
It added that an investigation into the accident has been launched, led by the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy admiral Nikolai Yevmenov.
Russian President Vladimir Putin summoned the Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to get further information about the situation following the incident, according to a Kremlin transcript.
Putin said that the victims were top professionals and that their death is a big loss for the fleet and for the Russian army in general.
He expressed condolences to the families of the victims and ordered to provide assistance to them.
Shoigu was instructed to go to Severomorsk in person so as to ensure a thorough investigation into the causes of the incident and report back to the president.