August 12, 2019
Russiahas bestowed posthumous awards on five nuclear experts and “national heroes” who died in a mysterious explosion at sea during a rocket engine test, authorities have said.
Russia Honours Five Nuclear Experts Who Died In Mystery Rocket Test Blast
Officials have been drip-feeding information about the blast on a platform in the White Sea off northern Russia that caused a radiation spike in a nearby city, Reuters reported.
US-based nuclear experts said they suspected the explosion occurred during the testing of a nuclear-powered cruise missile vaunted by President Vladimir Putin last year.
The rocket’s fuel caught fire, causing it to detonate and knock several people into the sea.
“The testers are national heroes,” said Valentin Kostyukov, head of a nuclear centre, which is part of Russia’s state nuclear agency Rosatom.
“These people were the elite of the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre and have tested under some of the most incredibly difficult conditions,” he added, according to a statement from Rosatom.
Rosatom admitted on Saturday that five people killed in the blast were its staff members and the accident involved “isotope power sources”.
The five, who worked for the centre based at the closed city of Sarov, would be given state awards, Kostyukov said, without specifying what. Sarov’s administration announced two days of mourning, saying the experts died while “performing the task of national importance.”
Rosatom named the five as: Alexei Vyushin, Evgeny Koratayev, Vyacheslav Lipshev, Sergei Pichugin and Vladislav Yanovsky.
Though the Defence Ministry initially said no change in radiation was detected after Thursday’s explosion, local officials in the nearby city of Severodvinsk said radiation had briefly spiked, without saying how high.
Greenpeace had cited data from the Emergencies Ministry that it said showed radiation levels had risen twenty times above the normal level in Severodvinsk.
Russian media have said the rocket engine explosion may have occurred at a weapons testing area near the village of Nyonoksa, according to Reuters. Those reports say an area near Nyonoksa is used for tests on weapons - including ballistic and cruise missiles that are used by the Russian navy
Anxious local residents stocked up on iodine, used to reduce the effects of radiation exposure.
Moscow has a history of secrecy over accidents, most notably after an 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine, which is regarded as the worst nuclear mishap in history.Related... Short-Term Radiation Spike Detected After Deadly Explosion At Russian Missile Base Russian Foreign Ministry Defends 'Journalist' Tommy Robinson, Twitter Erupts In Irony Overload
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