An explosion on a missile engine unit at a military testing site in northern Russia killed two people on Thursday, causing a short-term spike in radiation levels in nearby Severodvinsk, according to authorities.
The blast occurred during the test of a liquid propulsion system, Russia’s RIA news agency cited the ministry of defence as saying.
“During the test of a liquid propulsion system, an explosion occurred and the unit ignited,”
The ministry added: “As a result of the accident, six representatives of the ministry of defence and the developer received injuries of varying severity.
“Two specialists died from their wounds.”
“A short-term rise in background radiation was recorded at 12 o’clock in Severodvinsk,” Ksenia Yudina, a spokeswoman for the city authorities, was quoted as saying.
City officials said background radiation levels had fully “normalised”. The population of Severodvinsk was 185,000 at the beginning of 2017, according to officials.
The rocket engine explosion occurred at a weapons testing area near the village of Nyonoksa in Arkhangelsk region, the Interfax news agency cited unnamed security sources as saying.
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 Defence Ministry had said earlier on Thursday that radiation levels were normal after an explosion involving a liquid-propellant rocket engine killed two people and injured six, Reuters reports.
“No harmful substances were emitted into the atmosphere, the background radiation is normal,” the defence ministry was quoted as saying.