MOSCOW, July 2. /TASS/. The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday it had not notified the Norwegian authorities about a ‘gas explosion’ on board a Russian Navy research submersible.
"Thanks to self-sacrificing actions of the crew, the fire at the submersible vehicle was put out. No notifications regarding the Russian deep-sea research submersible have ever been sent to the Norwegian side," the ministry said.
The statement came as a response to a Reuters report, which cited Per Strand, a director at the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, as saying that his agency "made checks" and was "not monitoring too high radiation levels in the area" where the accident took place. "He said Russian officials had told his agency that a gas explosion took place on board the submarine," Reuters added.
The Russian Defense Ministry said earlier on Tuesday that a fire broke out aboard a deep-sea underwater research vehicle, designated for studying the seafloor and the bottom of the World Ocean in the interests of the Russian Navy. The accident, which claimed the lives of 14 crew members, occurred when the submersible was conducting bathymetric measurements in Russian territorial waters.
Later in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to fly to the city of Severomorsk on Russia’s Barents Sea coast to ensure a thorough investigation into the blaze.