One dead, 14 injured after fire erupts on Russia’s sole aircraft carrier

Admiral Kuznetsov with the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dragon in 2014 (Photo: Royal Navy)

Russian state media reports that one person was killed while another 14 were injured after the country’s sole aircraft carrier caught fire while undergoing repairs in the northern naval base of Murmansk on Thursday, December 12.

The blaze erupted in the engine room of the Project 11435 carrier Admiral Kuznetsov as welding works were being carried out near that portion of the ship.

The flames then spread over an area covering 120 square metres.

Local news agency Sputnik said that the fire had been localised by 15:15 local time, more than three hours after it had first ignited.

Emergency response teams were able to evacuate nearly all of the people who were on board the ship at the time of the incident.

Six of those who were rescued suffered smoke inhalation and are currently undergoing treatment in the intensive care units of some nearby hospitals. Eight others, including two firefighters who had arrived to render assistance, sustained less serious injuries.

The TASS news agency reports rescuers have found one body near the origin of the fire and that a further two individuals remain unaccounted for.

Alexei Rakhmanov, president of United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), told reporters that no shipyard workers were among the injured and the missing.

TASS adds that the fire was believed to have been caused by a number of safety violations as sparks from the welding works near the engine room had reportedly fallen into a hold space containing diesel fuel.

The country’s defence ministry has assured the press that Admiral Kuznetsov had no munitions on board at the time of the incident, which is the second mishap to befall the nearly-30-year-old ship in just over a year.

The earlier incident occurred on October 30, 2018, when a power supply interruption caused the drydock holding the carrier to sink. This then caused a 70-tonne crane to fall on the flight deck and leave a five- by four-metre hole above the waterline.

Two shipyard workers were injured while a third went missing during the 2018 incident, which had also occurred at Murmansk Naval Base.

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