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55 Chinese sailors feared dead after oxygen systems of nuclear submarine failed mid-sea: Report

According to a secret report published by Daily Mail, the incident reportedly occurred in August this year after a catastrophic failure of the submarine's oxygen systems which poisoned the crew.

Written By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 London Updated on: October 04, 2023 14:43 IST
Nuclear submarine (Representational Image)
Image Source : AP/FILE Nuclear submarine (Representational Image)

In a major revelation, a media report claimed that at least 55 Chinese sailors were feared dead after their nuclear submarine was caught in a trap intended to ensnare British sub-surface vessels in the Yellow Sea. According to a secret report published by Daily Mail, the incident reportedly occurred in August this year after a catastrophic failure of the submarine's oxygen systems which poisoned the crew. 

As per the report, at least 21 officers and captain of the Chinese PLA Navy submarine '093-417' were among those who were killed in the tragic incident.

'Intelligence reports that on the 21st of August, there was an onboard accident whilst carrying out a mission in the Yellow Sea. The incident happened at 08.12 local resulting in the death of 55 crew members: 22 officers, 7 officer cadets, 9 petty officers, 17 sailors. Dead include the captain Colonel Xue Yong-Peng.," read the excepts of the UK report. 

What led to the catastrophic deaths?

The report underscored that the deaths were caused by hypoxia-- a state in which oxygen is not available in sufficient amounts at the tissue level to maintain adequate homeostasis.

"The submarine hit a chain and anchor obstacle used by the Chinese Navy to trap US and allied submarines. This resulted in system failures that took six hours to repair and surface the vessel. The onboard oxygen system poisoned the crew after a catastrophic failure," added the report.

As of now, there is no independent confirmation of the suspected loss of the Chinese submarine, China has outrightly rejected the report.

Notably, this was not the first time the Chinese government denied the killings of its own soldiers. The same trend was witnessed when Chinese troops were killed in a clash with India in 2020. India, on the other side, had accepted the casualties and claimed at least 20 of its soldiers were martyred in the clash in Galwan Valley.

Is there any system that could avoid this tragic incident?

Although there are no official comments on the possibility that Chinese soldiers could be saved from the catastrophic deaths. But a British submariner told the Daily Mail that it was possible that they were trapped on the net system and the submarine's batteries were running flat then eventually the air purifiers and air treatment systems could have failed.

'Which would have reverted to secondary systems and subsequently and plausibly failed to maintain the air. Which led to asphyxia or poisoning. 'We have a kit which absorbs CO2 and generates oxygen in such a situation. It is probable that other nations do not have this kind of tech," added the officer.

However, it added that "It is plausible that this occurred and I doubt the Chinese would have asked for international support for obvious reasons."

'If they were trapped on the net system and the submarine's batteries were running flat (plausible) then eventually the air purifiers and air treatment systems could have failed.

Also Read: Chinese dissident who fled to Taiwan appeals for asylum in US, Canada over fears of deportation

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