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Russian village near site of missile explosion that killed 5 told to evacuate, fueling radiation concerns: reports


In this grab taken from a footage provided by the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM press service, a Russian military band prepare to attend the funerals of five Russian nuclear engineers killed by a rocket explosion in Sarov, the closed city, located 370 kilometers (230 miles) east of Moscow, which has served as a base for Russia's nuclear weapons program since the late 1940s, Russia, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. (AP)

Residents of a Russian village near the site of a missile explosion that killed five nuclear engineers last week have been told to evacuate, following a brief spike in radiation levels in the region, according to multiple reports.

Russian authorities on Tuesday advised everyone in Nyonoksa to temporarily leave the rural community as officials clear the area, an apparent routine measure, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

Thursday’s accidental explosion happened on an offshore platform in the Arctic Ocean during a test of a nuclear-powered rocket engine. The official death toll remains unclear, but the accident killed at least five engineers from Rosatom, the state-controlled nuclear corporation, and injured several others.

Authorities reported an increase in radiation levels shortly after the explosion, but they said the change was brief and didn’t pose health hazards. The country’s Defense Ministry, however, insisted that no radiation had been released.

The local government in the nearby city of Severodvinsk said the radiation level rose to 2 microsieverts per hour for about 30 minutes on the day of the explosion before going back to the 0.1 microsieverts per hour, the normal level for the area. Emergency officials warned area workers to stay indoors and closed their windows.

President Trump suggested on Twitter that the test involved a nuclear-powered cruise missile known as Skyfall.

“The United States is learning much from the failed missile explosion in Russia. We have similar, though more advanced, technology,” he wrote Monday. “The Russian ‘Skyfall’ explosion has people worried about the air around the facility, and far beyond. Not good!”

In a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to address Trump’s comment.

“Accidents, unfortunately, happen," he said, according to CNN. “They are tragedies. But in this particular case, it is important for us to remember those heroes who lost their lives in this accident."

With News Wire Services