** FILE ** The Pyotr Velikiy, Peter the Great, Russian nuclear-powered missile cruiser seen in the Barents Sea, Russia, , Russia, in this July, 2004, file photo. The Peter the Great cruiser accompanied by three other ships of Russia's Northern Fleet was to sail from their base in Severomorsk Sunday on a cruise which will include a joint exercise with the Venezuelan Navy, Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said on Vesti 24 television. (AP Photo/File)
MOSCOW (AP) -- An accident aboard a nuclear-powered Russian navy submarine doing a test run in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday killed more than 20 people, the navy said.
The nuclear reactor aboard the submarine was operating normally and radiation levels were normal, navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo said on Sunday.
The accident occurred when a fire-extinguishing system went into operation in error aboard the submarine, Dygalo said. He said the dead included sailors and shipbuilders.
The submarine was heading back to shore on its own power, and 21 people injured in the accident were evacuated to a ship that was escorting the sub. There were 208 people aboard the vessel.
The state-run RIA-Novosti news agency cited an unnamed official in Russia's Pacific Fleet as saying the accident occurred toward the bow of the submarine and that there was no threat to the nuclear reactor, closer to the center.
Dygalo would not name the submarine or say exactly where the accident took place.
RIA-Novosti cited an unnamed official at the Amur Shipbuilding Factory as saying the sub was built there, is called the Nerpa and was on a test run in the Sea of Japan when the accident occurred.
The official said the sub was heading for a base in the Primorye region, which includes the port city of Vladivostok.
According to RIA-Novosti, testing on the submarine began last month and it submerged for the first time last week.
Russia's navy has been plagued by deadly accidents, including the explosions that sank the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk in 2000, killing all 118 seamen aboard.
Saturday's accident came as the Kremlin seeks to restore Russia's naval reputation. A naval squadron is headed to Venezuela for joint exercises this month in a show of force near U.S. waters.