The Navy diving teams have been working non-stop to reach into the compartments of the submarine since rescue operations commenced early noon of 14 Aug. The boiling waters inside the submarine prevented any entry till noon of 14 Aug. Access to the inner compartments of the submarine was made almost impossible due to jammed doors and hatches, distorted ladders, oily and muddy waters inside the submerged submarine resulting in total darkness and nil visibility within the submarine even with high power underwater lamps. Distorted and twisted metal within very restricted space due extensive internal damage caused by the explosion further worsened conditions for the divers. This resulted in very slow and laboured progress. Only one diver could work at a time to clear the path to gain access. After 36 hours of continuous diving effort in these conditions, Navy divers have finally reached the second compartment behind the conning tower in the early hours of 16 Aug.
Three bodies have been located and extricated from the submarine from this compartment. The bodies are severely disfigured and not identifiable due to severe burns. The bodies have been sent to INHS Asvini, the naval hospital, for possible DNA identification which is likely to take some more time.
The state of these two bodies and conditions within the submarine leads to firm conclusion that finding any surviving personnel within the submarine is unlikely. The damage and destruction within the submarine around the control room area indicates that the feasibility of locating bodies of personnel in the forward part of the submarine is also very remote as the explosion and very high temperatures, which melted steel within, would have incinerated the bodies too. However, the navy will continue to search every inch of the submerged submarine till all bodies are either located or it can be stated with finality that no bodies remain to be found.
The Navy is presently concentrating on reaching the interiors of the submarine to locate and extricate any remaining bodies that may still be trapped within. Salvage of the submarine would only be attempted thereafter for which many alternatives including deploying professional salvers are also being considered. However, presently, gaining access to the submarine and locating bodies is the top priority.
Families of all the 18 missing personnel have been contacted by the Navy and are being provided regular updates through constant interaction by the Family Cell headed by a 2 star flag officer and members of the Navy Wives Welfare Association.