IMAGE: BRITISH SUBMARINE
Erik Reynolds  /  AP
In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Navy, the British Royal Navy submarine HMS Tireless is shown during an exercise in the Arctic Ocean last Saturday. An air purification system malfunctioned Wednesday on the nuclear-powered submarine, killing two sailors, officials said.
updated 3/21/2007 4:52:25 PM ET 2007-03-21T20:52:25

An air purification system malfunctioned Wednesday on a nuclear-powered British submarine during an exercise in the Arctic, and two sailors were killed and one was injured, officials said.

The HMS Tireless was submerged under an ice cap in a joint exercise with the United States at the time of the 12:20 a.m. ET incident but surfaced quickly, according to the Ministry of Defense.

The submarine's nuclear reactor was not affected, the ministry said in a statement.

HMS Tireless is a hunter-killer submarine and does not carry nuclear missiles, the ministry said.

It was not immediately clear what went wrong with the air purification system in a forward section of the submarine, a ministry spokesman said while speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.

The injured sailor was airlifted to a U.S. military hospital, the ministry said. His injuries were not described as life-threatening.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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