Almost 48 hours after the INS Sindhurakshak sank in the Arabian Sea after two big explosions, there was still no sign of the 18 sailors on board the submarine. And as diver after diver rose to the surface with details of the reconnaissance, hopes of a miracle dimmed.
The divers said Thursday that the heat of the blasts had melted parts of the internal hull and deformed the hatches, thereby preventing access to the compartments within the Kilo-class submarine, navy sources said.
The sinking of the Russian-made vessel around Tuesday midnight has raised questions about the capability of the Indian Navy's submarine force at a time when neighbour China is known to be scaling up its fleet.
A navy release said, "Diving efforts have been hampered by poor visibility inside the submarine, which is filled with water, extremely restricted spaces and displacement of most equipment from their original location."
Apart from diving and salvage operations, heavy-duty pumps have been installed to clear the submarine chambers of water.
A committee of experts is expected to evaluate if the submarine can be salvaged, and if it is economically viable. The recent refit of the Sindhurakshak had cost India $80 million.