Fifty-five Chinese sailors are feared dead after their nuclear submarine apparently got caught in a trap intended to ensnare British sub-surface vessels in the Yellow Sea.
According to a secret UK report the seamen died following a catastrophic failure of the submarine’s oxygen systems which poisoned the crew.
The captain of the Chinese PLA Navy submarine ‘093-417’ is understood to be among the deceased, as were 21 other officers. Officially, China has denied the incident took place. It also appears Beijing refused to request international assistance for its stricken submarine. The UK report into the fatal mission reads: ‘Intelligence reports that on 21st of August there was an onboard accident whilst carrying out a mission in the Yellow Sea.
‘Incident happened at 08.12 local resulting in the death of 55 crew members: 22 officers, 7 officer cadets, 9 petty officers, 17 sailors. Dead include the captain Colonel Xue Yong-Peng.
‘Our understanding is death caused by hypoxia due to a system fault on the submarine. The submarine hit a chain and anchor obstacle used by the Chinese Navy to trap US and allied submarines.
‘This resulted in systems failures that took six hours to repair and surface the vessel. The onboard oxygen system poisoned the crew after a catastrophic failure.’
As yet there is no independent confirmation of the suspected loss of the Chinese submarine in the public domain.
Beijing has dismissed open source speculation about the incident as ‘completely false’ while Taiwan has also denied internet reports.