Fourteen seamen were killed in a fire on a deep submersible, said Russian Defence Ministry late on Tuesday.

The tragedy in the far north has echoes of the sinking of the Kursk submarine in 2000 that claimed the lives of 118 personnel and shook the first year of Vladimir Putin’s presidency.

“On July 1, a fire broke out during biometric measurements on a scientific research deep-sea submersible,” the defence ministry said.

Fourteen submariners died as a result of poisoning from the fumes of the fire, a ministry spokeswoman told AFP.

The fire has been put out, the ministry said, adding that an investigation was still underway.

The Ministry further said, “The research was conducted to study areas near the seabed and the seabed itself of the ocean in the interests of the Russian naval fleet.”

The vessel is now situated at a military base in the closed northern city of Severomorsk which is located on the Kola Peninsula above the Arctic Circle.

The defence ministry provided no other details.

In 2011, one of Russia’s biggest nuclear submarines caught fire while undergoing repairs in the dock in the northern Murmansk region.