Chinese media were unusually open in reporting an accident on a submarine that killed all 70 men on board. The accident took place in Chinese territorial waters off the northeastern coast and was the result of mechanical problems during training. The Ming-class submarine, which usually has a complement of nine officers and 46 men, was towed back to port. The cause of the disaster has not been disclosed, but analysts have speculated that the crew may have been killed by a gas leak.
Former president Jiang Zemin, who remains head of the Central Military Commission, sent condolences to the families of the men, and President Hu Jintao said that mourning for the dead sailors should stir resolve to build a bigger, better fleet of submarines. China has about 90 submarines dating back decades and analysts believe that many of them are not seaworthy. Last year it was reported that China had ordered eight Kilo-class submarines from Russia costing an estimated US$1.6bn, to be delivered within five years.