Russia Says Explosion Killed Nuclear Workers

However authorities in the nearby port city of Severodvinsk reported a spike in radiation levels in the area and are unsure why the accident would cause such changes. Data cited by Greenpeace from Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situatio

They died last Thursday in what state nuclear agency Rosatom has said was an accident during a rocket test on a sea platform off northern Russian Federation.

The Russian Defense Ministry initially said that two people died in the accident involving a liquid-fuel jet engine.

A U.S. nuclear expert says last Thursday's explosion at a Russian military facility may have occurred during tests on a nuclear-powered cruise missile.

"The best tribute to them will be our continued work on new models of weapons, which will definitely be carried out to the end", Likhachev was quoted as saying by RIA news agency. Both levels are too small to cause radiation sickness. In a statement, Rosatom said the accident killed five of its staff and injured three, who suffered burns and other injuries.

Statements on Saturday by state nuclear agency Rosatom were the first confirmation of the involvement of the body responsible for Russia's atomic power industry. Those injured included military specialists and civilian engineers for the rocket engine's developer.

Citing data from the Emergency Situations Ministry, Greenpeace said radiation levels had risen 20 times above the normal level in the city. The officials said this did not present any significant risk to public health.

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Ankit Panda of the Federation of American Scientists noted on Twitter that the missile "is suspected to have some sort of a miniaturized reactor in its propulsion unit", and added: "a crash likely resulted in not-insignificant radioisotope dispersion".

Russian online media published unattributed video that journalists said showed a line of ambulances speeding through Moscow to take the injured to a centre that specialises in the treatment of radiation victims.

There were no further details of the rocket or fuel type.

A number of pharmacies in the region, including chains Apteka29 and VITA, said they've experienced shortages of iodine tablets after local residents rushed to buy them following the blast.

"Yesterday it was all sold out", one pharmacist said.

The Soviet Union was the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster when, in 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine released radioactive contamination for nine days.

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