Death Toll Raised To Five People In Arkhangelsk Military Site Blast

Moscow acknowledges mysterious rocket explosion involved nuclear workers

The test took place on a sea platform during a period of work related to the engineering and technical support of "isotopic power sources" in a "liquid propulsion system", the agency said. On August 10, Rosatom said that five employees were killed in the accident and three more were hospitalized. "Three other colleagues received wounds and various burns", the company said.

The decree by the city chief said the five killed were staff of the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre.

Officials in Severodvinsk told the BBC that radiation levels reached 2 microsieverts per hour before falling back to the normal 0.11 about 40 minutes later.

An unidentified naval officer quoted by Kommersant newspaper said the accident could have occurred at a testing site at sea and that the explosion of a rocket could have caused a toxic fuel spill.

Authorities said the port has been closed off after the incident.

Russian Federation has bestowed posthumous awards on five nuclear experts and "national heroes" who died in a mysterious explosion at sea during a rocket engine test, authorities said on Sunday.

Several staff were thrown into the sea by the force of the blast, the nuclear agency said, adding that it only announced the deaths when there was no longer any hope that the employees had survived.

Although the defence ministry initially said that no harmful chemicals were released into the atmosphere and that radiation levels were unchanged, authorities in the nearby city of Severodvinsk reported what they described as a brief spike in radiation.

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The Reuters reported that the statement by Severodvinsk administration was taken down from the Internet on Friday without explanation.

The local authorities said sensors in Severodvinsk "recorded a short-term increase in the radiation background" at 11:50 a.m. local time (4:50 a.m. ET) on Thursday.

Citing data from the Emergency Situations Ministry, Greenpeace said radiation levels had risen 20 times above the normal level in the city.

Local media has also reported that local residents have been stocking up on iodine, which helps to reduce the effects of radiation exposure.

US -based nuclear experts have said they suspect the blast and radiation release could have occurred during the testing of a cruise missile that used nuclear propulsion.

The explosion followed a massive fire that erupted Monday at a military ammunition depot near Achinsk in eastern Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region.

"They are heroes of modern Russian Federation and we will remember them", chief Valentin Kostyukov said in a video statement posted by Sarov media.

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