FEARS of another Chernobyl-style disaster are being realised as residents living near the Russian nuclear missile test explosion site are evacuated.
A massive spike in radiation has seen residents being “advised to leave” the village of Nyonoksa, near the explosion site.
A train has been organised to remove people tomorrow at 4am local time.
Russia’s state weather service said radiation levels spiked in the Russian city of Severodvinsk by up to 16 times last Thursday after a nuclear reactor explosion during a rocket engine test on a sea platform.
Authorities in Severodvinsk said: “We have received a notification…about the planned activities of the military authorities.
“In this regard, residents of Nyonoksa were asked to leave the territory of the village from Aug. 14.”
EVACUATION: A massive spike in radiation has seen residents being ‘advised to leave’
The disastrous Russian missile test that killed five scientists involved a nuclear reactor, officials have since revealed.
Thousands of people have attended the burials of five Russian nuclear engineers killed by an explosion during tests of a new rocket.
The engineers, who died on Thursday, were laid to rest on Monday in the city of Sarov that hosts Russia’s main nuclear weapons research centre.
THREAT: Sources previously claimed it could have been a Zircon hypersonic weapon
The defence ministry initially said the explosion at the navy’s testing range in Nyonoksa in the northwestern Arkhangelsk region killed two people and injured a further six, but the state-controlled Rosatom nuclear concern acknowledged later that the blast also killed five of its workers and injured three others.
Rosatom said the explosion occurred while the engineers were testing “a nuclear isotope power source” for a rocket.
Local authorities in nearby Severodvinsk reported a brief spike in radiation levels after the explosion.
This is a breaking news story and is constantly being updated.
Usage of iodine has reportedly gone up
An explosion at a missile testing range in north-western Russia killed five people working for the state nuclear energy agency and saw radiation levels spike locally, but there is no sign the radiation has spread to other countries.
The Rosatom scientists were thrown from a sea-based platform after fuel caught fire at the military facility near Severodvinsk on 8 August, Russian news agencies reported. In a statement, Rosatom said the work was “related to a radio isotope power source”. Observers have speculated it could have been a nuclear-powered cruise missile that Russian president Vladimir Putin spoke of last year.
“Russian authorities have confirmed the involvement of radioactive materials in the accident, but not the specific weapons system that was being tested,” says Ankit Panda at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C. “It’s important to clarify that the radiological event in this case is not due to the presence of nuclear weaponry, but what may be a prototype nuclear propulsion unit for a cruise missile.” He believes the difficulties and dangers of such a system mean it may never see deployment.
Radiation levels in Severodvinsk, 25 miles away, jumped for nearly an hour, at levels of up to 2 microsieverts per hour, which is below levels considered dangerous. A statement on the city’s website reported a “short-term” spike on Thursday, but the statement had been removed by Friday.
People in the city of 185,000 were reported to have bought up all supplies of iodine, which can prevent radioactive iodine from accumulating in the thyroid gland. Ambulances reportedly carrying the victims of the explosion were driven by people in chemical protection suits, in video posted on Twitter.
The explosion was also detected by seismic and infrasound monitors used by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization in Austria.
Though it brings to mind the spectre of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown, when Russia authorities did not acknowledge the disaster until radiation was detected in Europe, no radiation from the recent incident appears to have reached Europe. The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority says it has detected nothing unusual yet, and the UK’s radiation monitoring network, RIMNET, told New Scientist it has had no reports of other countries recording increases in radiation levels.
“Lack of detection by Norway and Finland so far makes us assume only trace concentrations may reach Europe,” says Rashid Alimov at Greenpeace Russia. Modelling by Ivan Kovalyets at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine suggests only small concentrations might reach into Ukraine.
Russia explosion: A fire at a military base has left at least one dead (Image: TWITTER)
The incident at Severodvinsk, in the Arkhangelsk, was also feared to have led to a spike in radiation levels. A spokesperson for the city said: “At around 12 o’clock in Severodvinsk, a short-term excess of the radiation background was recorded.” However state-run media sources later said radiation levels were normal and no harmful substances had been released.
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Russian news agency TASS said victims had been confirmed with ambulance crews at the scene.
They quoted an unnamed source as saying: “As a result of the emergency, one person was killed. The incident began with the ship, now there is a fire.”
The Governor of the Arkhangelsk Region Igor Orlov said: “There are victims, ambulance is sent to the place.”
Russian news agency, RIA, and TASS said two people had died with more than 15 injured.
They said a jet engine had exploded during a test.
Russia explosion: Two people have died following an incident in Severodvinsk (Image: GOOGLE MAPS)
The Ministry for Defence said: “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.
“As a result of the accident, six representatives of the Ministry of Defece and a developer enterprise were injured of varying severity.
“Two specialists died from the wounds received. All the victims were promptly taken to a medical facility, where they received the necessary medical care.
“There were no emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere, the radiation background is normal.”