Gas leak on Indian destroyer kills navy officer

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NEW DELHI (AP) — A gas leak on a destroyer being built at a Mumbai dockyard killed a navy commander and sickened two workers Friday, in the latest fatal accident to hit the Indian navy.

After a deadly fire on a submarine last week, navy chief Adm. D.K. Joshi resigned to take responsibility for the string of accidents.

Friday's gas leak was caused by a malfunction in a carbon dioxide unit on the destroyer, which was scheduled to be delivered to the navy next month, state-owned Mazagon Dock Ltd. said in a statement.

The two ill workers were treated at a hospital and later discharged, Mazagon spokesman Parvez Panthaty said. He said there was no fire or explosion on board.

An earlier report said four workers had been sickened.

Two navy officers were killed last week by the fire on a Russian-built submarine during a training exercise at sea.

Last August, another Russian-made diesel-powered submarine, the INS Sindhurakshak, caught fire after an explosion and sank at port in Mumbai, killing all 18 sailors on board.

In December, the INS Talwar, a Russian-built stealth frigate, slammed into a trawler off India's west coast, sinking the boat and tossing 27 fishermen into the sea. All of the fishermen were rescued.

Another navy frigate ran aground near the Mumbai naval base in January, damaging some equipment. And the INS Airavat, an amphibious warfare vessel, ran aground earlier last month. Its commanding officer was stripped of his duties.

Sameer Patil, a security expert with the Indian Council on Global Relations, a Mumbai-based think tank, said Friday's accident was likely to create further doubts about India's naval capability.

"This incident will now raise questions regarding the quality of the ship-building at government-owned shipyards at a time when emphasis is being placed on cutting dependency on foreign hardware and promoting indigenous ship building," he said.

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