The first five — severely disfigured — bodies were recovered by divers on Friday morning from the INS Sindhurakshak, the war submarine that sank around Tuesday midnight after multiple blasts.
Navy officials said the bodies, extricated from the vessel’s second compartment, could not be identified. The families of all 18 sailors onboard the submarine were alerted and the bodies shifted to navy hospital INHS Asvini, where DNA tests will be carried out to identify them.
The development, coming more than 48 hours after the incident, lends credence to the possibility that none of the 18 sailors survived. And while the navy issued a statement to the effect on Friday, the search operation is still on.
Navy officials claimed that going by the damage and destruction around the control room, there is little chance of locating bodies in the front half of the vessel.
They said the explosion and consequent high temperatures had melted the steel, most likely incinerating the bodies as well.
Earlier, the navy’s diving teams faced great difficulty in reaching the submarine’s compartments because of zero visibility inside the vessel, jammed doors, melted hatches, distorted ladders and oily water.
Only one diver was able to work at a time, said navy officials.
“One diver would work to clear the path to gain access. When he surfaced, the next diver would further the process. The tedious task went on non-stop for 36 hours,” said a navy officer.