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USA expert: Blast in Russian missile tests

USA expert: Blast in Russian missile tests

Reuters, citing Russian news agencies, reported that the rocket's fuel caught fire after the test, causing it to detonate, with the subsequent explosion throwing several people into the sea. On August 10, the Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation said that five employees had been killed in the accident and three more had been hospitalized.

"At the test site of the Russian Ministry of Defence in the Arkhangelsk region, when testing a liquid propulsion system, an explosion occurred and the product ignited", the defence ministry told the Russian news agency TASS, in a statement.

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 its staff were providing engineering and technical support for the "isotope power source" of the engine being tested.

The authorities in Severodvinsk, a city around 30 kilometres (19 miles) away from the test site, said on their website that automatic radiation detection sensors in the city "recorded a brief rise in radiation levels" on Thursday morning, without saying what the levels were.

The explosion took place at a military testing range in the Arkhangelsk region, where specialists were working on a liquid-fuel jet engine, the defence ministry said.

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There have been "no harmful chemicals released into the atmosphere", the Defense Ministry said, adding that "radiation levels are normal". "Over the last 24 hours, no change was witnessed", Severodvinsk's city administration said Friday.

Officials also ordered shipping in the nearby Dvina Bay region of the White Sea, near both the military facility where the explosion occurred and a nuclear submarine production facility.

Russian media reported that the rocket engine explosion may have happened at a weapons testing area near the village of Nyonoksa where regular tests on cruise and ballistic missiles are carried out.

It's also not clear which type of rocket or fuel type was used, however, President Vladimir Putin had said that Russian Federation developed a nuclear engine for long-range missiles.

The city of 185,000 has reportedly been stocking up on iodine, which is used to reduce the effects of radiation exposure.