The captain and 21 officers are among the dead. (Not the real submarine/Representational pic)
Fifty-five Chinese soldiers were killed when a nuclear-powered submarine sunk after being caught in a trap intended for American and British vessels, UK-based The Times has reported citing leaked British intelligence reports. The incident took place in the Yellow Sea, the outlet further said in its report. However, China has denied the loss of submarine, as has Taiwan. But the British intelligence report identified the PLA Navy submarine as 093-417 and added that it suffered catastrophic failure that poisoned the crew on August 21.
The captain and 21 officers are among the dead, the report further said.
The vessel was said to have run out of oxygen near Shandong province, north of Shanghai, after it was caught in seabed defences installed by its own forces, The Times report said.
"Our understanding is death caused by hypoxia (lack of oxygen) due to a system fault on the submarine," it quoted British intelligence officials as saying in the report.
"The submarine hit a chain and anchor obstacle used by the Chinese navy to trap US and allied submarines. This resulted in systems failures that took six hours to repair and surface the vessel. The on-board oxygen system poisoned the crew after a catastrophic failure," it added.
The intelligence was highly classified and is likely to result in a leak inquiry.
The rumours about the incident involving the Shang-class submarine began swirling on social media more than a month ago but they were denied by Beijing.
China has six Type-093 attack submarines, which have a displacement of 6,096 tonnes and are armed with 553mm torpedoes. The nuclear- powered submarines, designed to be quieter than previous models, entered service in the past 15 years, The Times said in its report.