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12 Nov, 2008 14:38

Did computer error cause nuclear sub accident?

In Russia's Far East, thousands of people have been paying their last respects to the 20 people who suffocated to death on the Nerpa nuclear submarine last week. Meanwhile, an air supply specialist on the submarine has told Kommersant newspaper that a ce

Viktor Rifk, who was on board the sub and is now undergoing treatment in hospital, told the paper that many of the injured believe there might have been a computer system error.

“Previously, the fire extinguishing system on board submarines could only be launched manually. On the Nerpa it’s automatic. I know that in the summer there were some problems with the central computer that operates the submarine. Later, I think, everything was fixed.”  

In the Khabarovsk Region, an official day of mourning has been declared. Twelve of the victims of the tragedy were buried at a local cemetery in Komsomolsk-on-Amur as honorary citizens of the town.  

A memorial will be built to remember all those who died.

The accident onboard the submarine happened in the Pacific on November 8, while the vessel was undergoing trials.

The 20 who perished -17 from the shipyard delivery team and three sailors – were killed by the release of Freon, a poisonous gas used to put out fires, which was triggered when the fire extinguishing system was accidentally turned on. Twenty-one others were injured.

The main findings of the official investigation will be announced on Friday.