The 14 sailors who perished while extinguishing a fire aboard a Russian nuclear-powered sub died saving the world.
Top naval officer Captain Sergei Pavlov lauded the men at their funeral for making the ultimate sacrifice in battling the blaze and stopping it from spreading to the nuclear reactor that Russia now admits was onboard.
“With their lives, they saved the lives of their colleagues, saved the vessel and prevented a planetary catastrophe,” said Pavlov, an aide to the commander of Russia’s navy, at the funeral Sunday, reported Bloomberg, quoting Fontanka news service.
The fire broke out aboard a top-secret Russian sub that was surveying the Arctic sea floor, Russia’s Defense Ministry told Reuters.
It took Russian President Vladimir Putin three days to acknowledge that there had been a nuclear reactor on board, Reuters reported.
Both Reuters and Bloomberg noted that it wasn’t clear where the global nature of the danger was, given that Russian officials said the nuclear reactor was never in danger and that the crew had contained the fire before dying of smoke inhalation.
The men were memorialized on Sunday.
A spokesman for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, told news outlets that he was not aware of Pavlov’s comments and that there was no indication the fire had threatened anything beyond the submarine.
Either way, Putin designated four of the men as a Hero of Russia, the country’s highest state award, Reuters said. He bestowed the Order of Courage on the other 10.
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