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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fuel Explosion Sank the Kursk

Wrapping up nearly two years of sensitive investigation into the Kursk submarine tragedy, the government said Monday that the sinking was caused by an explosion of fuel in one of the Kursk's torpedoes.

Industry, Science and Technology Minister Ilya Klebanov, who led the commission investigating the disaster, said a leak of hydrogen peroxide used to fuel the 65-76 Kit (Whale) torpedo was at fault, according to Interfax.

The conclusion was reached unanimously at the commission's last meeting Saturday, Klebanov said.

"The reason for the accident was a thermal explosion of torpedo fuel components. It occurred as a result of a leak of hydrogen peroxide and the ignition of materials in the torpedo apparatus," Klebanov was quoted as saying.

The torpedo fuel caused one explosion that killed all crew members in the submarine's first compartment and some in the next compartment, another commission member, Vice Admiral Valery Dorogin, told Interfax. Then the fire and increase in pressure caused other ammunition on the submarine to detonate, resulting in a huge, second explosion, signaling doom for the entire craft, he said.

Outside observers had long ago reached the same conclusion about what destroyed the Kursk. But the investigation dragged on, and officials refused to rule out the theory of a collision with a foreign submarine until recently. The Kursk sank in the Barents Sea in August 2000, killing all 118 men aboard.