The origin of a fire that killed 14 members of crew aboard a Russian nuclear-powered submarine has been pinpointed to the vessel's battery compartment.
At least 14 sailors died in the blaze aboard a Russian defence ministry research vessel while carrying out a survey of the seafloor, Russian news agencies quoted the ministry as saying.
The incident took place on Monday in Russian territorial waters and the fire has now been extinguished.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the cause of the incident was a "fire in the battery compartment that spread," according to a transcription of a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on the Kremlin website.
He added: "The nuclear power unit has been sealed off and all personnel have been removed."
"Next, we have a group working with the submariners’ families. We are working with each family separately.
"We will provide the necessary assistance in accordance with our laws and regulations and, on the other hand, because it is our duty to the deceased sailors."
According to a ministry statement cited by Interfax, the sailors all died "as a result of smoke inhalation".
The submarine is now at the Russian Northern Fleet's base in Severomorsk on the Barents Sea Interfax, Interfax, RIA and TASS said, citing the ministry.
Can it be repaired?
In his meeting with Puting on Thursday, Shoigu said he believed the vessel could be repaired.
"The crew has taken the necessary measures to save the unit, which is in working order. This means we can repair the submersible quickly," he said.
In August 2000, the Kursk submarine, also part of the Northern Fleet, was destroyed by an explosion in the Barents Sea killing its 118-person crew.