Moscow acknowledges mysterious rocket explosion involved nuclear workers

However authorities in the nearby port city of Severodvinsk reported a spike in radiation levels in the area and are unsure why the accident would cause such changes. Data cited by Greenpeace from Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situatio

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday that two people had been killed and six others injured in an explosion of a liquid-propellant system at a military test site in the Arkhangelsk region.

Russian Federation said Saturday an explosion at an Arctic missile testing site killed five nuclear agency staff and involved radioactive isotopes after a nearby city reported a spike in radiation levels.

Rosatom was quoted as saying that a further three of its staff had received injuries of varying degrees of seriousness during the accident, including burns.

The five who perished had been working on an "isotope power source" for a propulsion system.

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.

Greenpeace has cited data from the Emergencies Ministry that it said showed radiation levels had risen 20 times above the normal level in Severodvinsk around 30kms from Nyonoksa.

The ministry said there was no release of radioactivity or any toxic substances, but the local administration in Severodvinsk about 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) east from Nyonoksa reported a brief increase in radiation levels.

The post was later taken down and the defence ministry said that radiation levels were normal after the accident.

A number of pharmacies in the region, including chains Apteka29 and VITA, said they've experienced shortages of iodine tablets after local residents rushed to buy them following the blast. Neither of the employees who answered the phones would give their names.

USA -based nuclear experts said on Friday they suspected the blast and radiation release occurred during the testing of a nuclear-powered cruise missile.

In separate interviews, the experts asserted that a liquid rocket-propellant explosion would not release radiation.

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.

"The testers are national heroes", said Valentin Kostyukov, head of a nuclear center, which is part of Russia's state nuclear agency Rosatom.

A senior USA official told Reuters that the details of the mishap are still unclear, but he expressed skepticism over the official explanation. The military had not described the accident as involving nuclear fuel.

On August 5, one person died and eight people were wounded in a series of blasts at an ammunition depot in the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk Krai.

A state commission is investigating the accident.

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