Five killed in test accident at state nuclear company in Russian Federation

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Enlarge Image iStock

Five staff of Russia's nuclear corporation Rosatom were killed and three suffered serious burns in the blast during a test of a liquid-propellant engine that resulted in a brief spike of radiation around the military testing site.

Russian Federation has said that five nuclear agency workers were killed Thursday by a blast during testing of a nuclear-powered missile at an Arctic facility. The tests involved "isotope power sources" on a liquid propulsion system, the agency said, though it added nothing about a radiation release.

The city where Russia's main nuclear research facility is based announced a day of mourning Sunday for five staff killed during a missile test that caused elevated radiation levels.

The company confirmed the employee deaths and injuries in a Facebook statement Saturday. "The injured were delivered to a specialized medical institution". "Their families will be assisted and supported".

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

The defense ministry said six defense ministry employees and a developer were injured, while two "specialists" died of their wounds. Both levels are too small to cause radiation poisoning.

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 risky for people working with them.

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 kilometres (18 miles) from Nyonoksa.

"If they are damaged, people who are nearby could be hurt".

Residents of two northern Russian cities are stocking up on iodine that is used to reduce the effects of radiation exposure after a mysterious accident on a nearby military testing site, regional media reported.

"People started to panic".

"Yesterday it was all sold out", said a pharmacist in Arkhangelsk told Russia's Interfax news agency on Friday. The country's worst post-Soviet naval disaster also occurred in the Barents Sea, when 118 crew died on the Kursk nuclear submarine that sank after an explosion in August 2000.