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Death toll rises to two after fire on Russia’s only aircraft carrier

Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier (Ministry of Defence/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The death toll in a fire on Russia’s sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, has risen to two, after a body was found on the vessel by search-and-rescue crews.

“The body was found on the second deck. The deceased has so far not been identified,” Russian media quoted sources as saying on December 13.

Aleksei Rakhmanov, the chief of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation, said earlier in the day that, after more than 24 hours, firefighters had finally extinguished the blaze that broke out on the vessel while it was docked at an Arctic shipyard.

Officials from the Navy’s Northern Fleet said on December 13 that the search-and-rescue operation had been officially completed.

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Health authorities in the Murmansk region said that 14 people were hospitalized with injuries sustained during the fire, which broke out while the ship was undergoing repairs.

One of the injured was said to be in serious condition. One serviceman died during the firefighting operation and another was said to be missing. It was not immediately clear if the body found was the missing firefighter.

According to Rakhmanov, a group of investigators was able to get aboard the aircraft carrier on December 13 to start investigating the cause of the fire.

Investigators said earlier that they were looking into possible construction violations.

The Admiral Kuznetsov sustained damage during repair work last year when the floating dock holding it sank and a crane crashed onto its deck.

The flagship of the Russian Navy became fully operational in 1995.