Bad news on Navy Day: Warship catches fire in Vizag, damage reported

In what has come as bad news on the occasion of Navy Day, a leading minesweeper that was undergoing repair work in Vizag caught fire on Wednesday while undergoing repairs and major damage being reported in the engine room where the inferno broke out.

The INS Konkan, a Pondicherry class minesweeper, was undergoing a refit at a dry dock at the naval base in Vizag when the incident occurred. While initially casualties had been feared, the incident did not go out of hand as most naval personnel were not on board given that Wednesday is Navy Day and sailors were off duty.

Sources said that the fire broke out in the engine room of the minesweeper – one of the latest of the Pondicherry class that were acquired from Russia – while repair work was being undertaken by civilian contractors onboard the vessel. Several people were evacuated from the under fire ship and fire tenders and ambulances were rushed in to bring the situation under control.

The incident occurred a day after Navy Chief DK Joshi said that the Navy's safety record was `not all that bad' as compared to other sea faring nations. Under fire from Defence Minister AK Antony who had advised top naval commanders last month to train personnel better and ensure that national resources are not frittered away, Joshi had said that recent incidents in which vessels had been lost were `isolated and separate'.

The Navy has suffered a series of recent accidents that have thrown up safety questions. Besides the loss of the INS Sindhurakshak earlier this year in which 18 sailors lost their life, several major platforms, including the INS VIndhyagiri have been lost to accidents.

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