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Explosion sparks fire at Russian laboratory stockpiling deadly viruses, including smallpox

2019-09-17

One worker was injured during an explosion at the Russian State Centre for Research on Virology and Biotechnology, a laboratory that houses smallpox and other deadly viruses.

Officials at the lab, known as Vector, said no biohazardous materials were being kept in the room where the explosion occurred and that there’s no threat to the surrounding area.

The blast started in a sanitary inspection room, where workers were doing repairs, when a gas cylinder exploded, according to the Russian TASS news agency. The glass windows were blown out but no structural damage was done to the building.

The injured worker is being treated in intensive care for third-degree burns.

Vector is just one of two centers worldwide approved to house live samples of smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980; the other is the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.