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Five killed in Russian 'liquid jet propultion

Five killed in Russian 'liquid jet propultion”

The rocket's fuel caught fire after the test, causing it to detonate and the explosion threw several people into the sea, it said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies. In a statement, Rosatom said the accident killed five of its staff and injured three, who suffered burns and other injuries.

Rostacom said the accident on Thursday occurred during tests on a liquid propellant rocket engine at the site in Nyonoksa, the BBC reported.

Rosatom's statement didn't say exactly what hardware was involved, but the New York Times pointed to clues that it might have been an experimental weapon.

Rosatom said that its nuclear specialists were at the missile testing site to provide engineering and technical support in the aftermath of the accident.

The Russian Defense Ministry said at the time that two people died while testing the liquid jet propulsion system and that no unsafe substances were released into the atmosphere.

Although the defence ministry initially said that no harmful chemicals were released into the atmosphere and that radiation levels were unchanged, authorities in the nearby city of Severodvinsk reported what they described as a brief spike in radiation. An increase in background radiation was registered on the test site, but the measurements are said to have soon returned to normal.

Greenpeace cited data from the Emergencies Ministry that it said showed radiation levels had risen 20 times above the normal level in Severodvinsk, around 30 km from Nyonoksa.

Nyonoksa hosts a navy facility that serves as a base for testing intercontinental ballistic missiles intended for nuclear submarines. "At the checkout, people were discussing the news about radiation in Severodvinsk, the explosion at the military site". The officials said this did not present a significant risk to public health.

It is the second accident involving Russia's military this week.

Rosatom said the injured were being treated at a "specialized medical center". An expert from Moscow's Institute for Nuclear Research, Boris Zhuikov, told RBK independent news site that isotope power sources are mainly used in spacecraft and are not usually unsafe for people working with them.

The nearby city of Severodvinsk recorded elevated radiation levels following the accident and panicked residents rushed to buy iodine to counteract radiation. "Within a matter of an hour all the iodine and iodine-containing drugs were sold out", pharmacist Yelena Varinskaya told AFP.

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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