Russian sub survivors: Freon killed as crew slept

MOSCOW (AP) -- Survivors are providing new details of the accident on board a Russian submarine that killed 20 people.

They say dozens of crew members were sleeping when Freon gas began pouring over them from a firefighting system.

The sub was undergoing sea trials over the weekend in the Sea of Japan when its fire-extinguishing system switched on. The freezing, liquefied Freon gas asphyxiated the victims, and sent 21 others to the hospital.

Some of the survivors say a siren warning the crew that the firefighting system was turning on may somehow have been delayed. One man told NTV that the siren blared moments after the Freon came streaming in. He says a second wave of Freon came shortly afterward, and then he passed out.

Another survivor is also quoted (in Komsomolskaya Pravda) as saying the siren went off only after gas began pouring in. He says a duty officer on the intercom then ordered everyone to use breathing kits. He says some may have died because they were right under the stream of Freon, or because they panicked -- or couldn't immediately get to the breathing kits.

The sub returned to its home port under its own power Sunday.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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