MOSCOW (PM) – Two people were killed and a nearby city recorded an increase in radiation levels when a rocket engine exploded at a testing site in northern Russia on Thursday, requiring authorities to shut down shipping on a bay in the White Sea.
The alleged fleeting spike in radiation was recorded by officials in the nearby city of Severodvinsk, which has a population of 185,000. This clearly contradicted the Russia defense ministry, which was cited earlier by state media as maintaining radiation was normal.
RIA news agency excerpted the defense ministry as stating no dangerous substances had been discharged into the atmosphere by the explosion of what it termed a liquid-propellant rocket engine in the Arkhangelsk region. In extension to the two deaths, it stated six people were injured in the blast.
The rocket engine explosion transpired at a weapons testing area near the village of Nyonoksa in Arkhangelsk region, the Interfax news agency cited unnamed security sources as stating.
Greenpeace cited data from the Emergencies Ministry that it stated revealed radiation levels had risen 20 times above the normal level in Severodvinsk, which lies around 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Nyonoksa.
Russian media said an area near Nyonoksa is used for tests on weapons including ballistic and cruise missiles that are used by the Russian navy.
The explosion was the second major incident to hit the military in Russia this week. A range of blasts shook an arms depot at a military base in Siberia on Monday, killing one, injuring 13 and prompting authorities to relocate thousands of people from nearby settlements.