Russia Says Five Died in Blast Where Radiation Spike Reported
Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, center, attends the Russian Navy day in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

Russia Says Five Died in Blast Where Radiation Spike Reported

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(Bloomberg) -- Russia’s state nuclear company, Rosatom, said five employees were killed and three were hurt in an explosion at a Barents Sea military facility that prompted local officials to report a spike in radiation levels.

The blast occurred on an offshore platform during a missile test involving “isotope power sources in a liquid propulsion system” in the northern Arkhangelsk region, the company said Saturday, according to the Interfax news service. The injured suffered “burns of varying severity” and were moved to a specialist medical center for treatment, it said.

Officials in the port city of Severodvinsk said a “short-term increase in radiation” had been detected after the accident on Thursday, according to a statement on the local administration’s website that was later removed. Pharmacies in the area reported that residents were stocking up on iodine to safeguard against possible effects of radiation exposure, according to the news website.

Several of those who died were thrown into the sea by the force of the explosion on the platform after rocket fuel ignited during the testing of new technologies, Rosatom said, according to Interfax.

Port authorities on Friday declared the Dvinsky Bay near Severodvinsk closed to shipping until Sept. 10 at the request of the military, the news website reported, citing local officials who gave no explanation. The area is home to a weapons testing range for the Russian navy and close to shipyards that produce nuclear submarines.

Russia’s Defense Ministry, which has disclosed few details, previously stated that two people died and six were injured in the blast, while adding that radiation levels were normal after the incident.

The Russian navy has suffered numerous high-profile accidents over the years. In July, 14 sailors died in a fire aboard a nuclear-powered submarine in the Barents Sea in an incident on which officials initially refused to comment. 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.

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