Casualties after missile engine explosion near Severodvinsk
Regional news site 29.ru reports that the accident happened at 9 am Thursday.
The news-site claims that three people are dead and that eight of 15 injured are in serious conditions.
The Ministry of Defense confirms the explosion, stating that seven people are injured, while two people died, TASS reports.
According to the Defense Ministry information, the cause of the accident was an explosion while testing a liquid propulsion system. The explosion triggered a fire. It is known that the site is used for testing of liquid fueled engines of ballistic missiles for strategic nuclear-powered submarines.
«…. the radiation background is normal,» the Ministry informs.
Rumors about a radiation leak was first reported by 29.ru, referring to emergency services saying radiation levels were three times higher than normal background.
The news portal quotes Valentin Magomedov, head of the Civil Protection Department of the administration in Severodvinsk saying that two sensors in town for a short period measued increase in background radiation.
«From 11.50 to 12.30, the increase in radiation background began. As of 14.00, the readings of the sensors did not exceed 0.11 µSv/h» …. «The radiation background in Severodvinsk is normal,» he said.
Also the Arkhangelsk-based news agency Region 29 reports about measuring of increased level of radiation following the explosion.
«Sensors in Severodvinsk with automated system for monitoring radiation responded to increased indicators,» the agency reports with reference to the local emergency services. The levels reported from Nyonoksa are three times higher than normal. The news agency tells that also the administration of Severodvinsk informed about a slight increase in radiation, but “…. it has now returned to normal.”
It is unclear if the explosion happened on land or at sea. The Defense Ministry says «testing ground in the Arkhangelsk region», while several of the reports from regional media refer to the accident happened onboard a barge or a ship. The only known weapon systems with nuclear propulsion under development and testing are the Poseidon underwater drone and the Burevestnik cruise missile.
Nyonoksa is located 25 kilometers west of Severodvinsk in Arkhangelsk region. The test site was established in 1965 and are mainly engaged in testing prototypes of different submarine missiles.
In December 2015, the test site made headlines in Russian media and the Barents Observer after a cruise missile accidentally hit an apartment block in the nearby village.