Russia’s only aircraft carrier catches fire; 1 dead and 2 missing

A further 10 people were injured and two are missing, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

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The fire broke out as welders were working during maintenance in the first power unit. A thick plume of black smoke was seen from the upper deck.

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The area affected by smoke and fire covers 120 square meters (1,292 square feet), TASS said.

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Admiral Kuznetsov, a ski-jump type aircraft carrier, is the Russian navy’s largest warship and its sole aircraft carrier.

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The warship made its first combat deployment in 2016, in the Mediterranean Sea, when its fighter jets delivered strikes in Syria.

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But the carrier has had problems since its return to Russia for maintenance.

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Last October, a crane fell on it during the repair work, gouging a hole in its deck.

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The accident took place after a power supply disruption caused the pumps on the floating dry dock, which was holding the aircraft carrier, to break down, causing the structure to sink.

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The dock, known as PD-50, was one of the world’s largest floating dry docks and the biggest in Russia, measuring 330 meters long (1,082 feet) and weighing more than 80,000 tons.

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Following the disruption, PD-50 quickly became submerged, causing two cranes to fall onto the deck of the Russian vessel, leaving a hole measuring 4 meters by 5 meters (13 feet by 16.4 feet), state-run media Sputnik said.

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After that accident, Russian officials told state media the damage would not delay repairs on the Admiral Kuznetsov, which were due to be completed by 2021.

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The Kuznetsov accident is at least the second deadly fire for Russia’s navy this year.

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In July, a fire aboard a Russian deepwater submersible killed 14 crew. The submariners died from smoke inhalation after a blaze broke out on the craft, which was carrying out research in Russian territorial waters, according to TASS.

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Russia later said details of that accident were a “state secret” and released no further information.

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