A guard of honour will be held for those who died aboard the ill-fated INS Sindhurakshak, on the jetty at the naval dockyard. This marks a deviation from tradition where usually the honour is held just before a soldier is cremated.
Naval officials said that once the DNA reports identify the seven personnel, the bodies would be collected from JJ Hospital mortuary and all the coffins would be brought to the jetty, where a full guard of honour would be given to them. Defence Minister A K Antony and Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi are likely to attend the ceremony.
Arrangements would then be made to send the bodies to their families for the final rites in their hometowns, where another guard of honour would be given before cremation.
Officials said efforts are on to look for the remaining 11 bodies, but since divers have searched all the compartments on the sub, there is a dim chance of any more being recovered. At the time of explosion, most personnel were in the first compartment, which was laden with torpedoes.
Meanwhile, to find the cause of the blasts, the Board of Inquiry and unit flag officer are questioning the three naval personnel who escaped the explosions with minor injuries, by jumping into the sea minutes before the detonations.
Antony has stated in the Rajya Sabha, “Preliminary investigations indicate that the explosions were due to the possible ignition of armament.”
Navy officials said work has begun to salvage the vessel, by trying to fix the holes, but a lot of muck and zero visibility is hindering the operation. Singapore-based Smit Salvage is assisting the Navy to resurface the sub.
Drawn-out ID process
Explaining the delay in the DNA test reports to identify the seven Navy men, scientists at the Forensic Science Laboratory in Kalina said each DNA sample has to be cross-checked thoroughly before any conclusion, and the entire process is time-consuming. Two DNA samples (from teeth and femur) have been extracted from each body recovered. These 14 unidentified samples need to be matched, turn by turn, with the 36 blood samples taken from two relatives of each of the 18 sailors aboard the boat, to avoid any ambiguity.
Surgeons to work out cause of death
Surgeons from the department of forensic medicine and toxicology, Grant Medical College, who conducted the seven autopsies, are awaiting water samples from the naval dockyard where the sub exploded and sank. The Cuffe Parade police have been asked to collect them. The samples would be used to examine the chest bones of all seven bodies, for a diatom test, which would establish if the personnel died by drowning or burning. The findings will help in preparing the cause of death report.