Russia Nuclear Agency Says Five Died in Missile Test Explosion

12 Août, 2019, 00:42 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Map of Russia locating explosion in Severodvinsk

Rosatom's engineering and technical division had been working on "isotope power source" for a propulsion system, the company told Russian media.

Russia's state nuclear agency Rosatom said on Saturday that five of its staff members were killed in an accident during tests on a military site in northern Russian Federation.

The agency, Rosatom, said five people killed in the blast were its staff members, and the accident involved "isotope power sources", giving no further details.

The decree identified the five victims as staff of the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre.

The explosion led to radiation levels spiking up to 20 times above normal in the nearby city of Severodvinsk for about a half an hour, according to the Guardian. The search continued until the hope to find survivors was present.

Rostacom said the accident occurred during tests on a liquid propellant rocket engine.

In interviews with Reuters news agency, two experts said that a liquid rocket propellant explosion would not release radiation and suspected that the explosion and radiation release was due to the testing of a nuclear-powered cruise missile.

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The defence ministry insisted that "there have been no harmful chemicals released into the atmosphere, the radiation levels are normal".

The local authorities said sensors in Severodvinsk "recorded a short-term increase in the radiation background" at 11:50 a.m. local time (4:50 a.m. ET) on Thursday.

While local officials urged calm, residents in several cities stocked up on iodine, which is often used to limit the effects of radiation exposure.

The defense ministry said six defense ministry employees and a developer were injured, while two "specialists" died of their wounds.

Contacted by telephone by RFE/RL, one pharmacy in Severodvinsk reported being sold out of iodine as of August 8.

The authorities have released few details of the accident at the Nyonoksa test site on the White Sea, used for testing missiles used in nuclear submarines and ships since the Soviet era. At least 12 people had suffered injuries in an explosion at an ammunition depot in the Krasnoyarsk region on Tuesday. The Russian military has, meanwhile, refuted a report that a Rosatom vessel, capable of collecting radioactive waste, was dispatched to Severodvinsk, saying it had actually been undergoing scheduled trials.

The Investigative Committee said it was investigating possible violations at the site during the handling of weapons in connection with the explosions, which prompted a state of emergency in the surrounding region.

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