A huge explosion rocked a testing platform during missile testing in the Arctic which has left five of its staff dead, and involved radioactive isotopes, after a nearby city reported a spike in radiation levels, according to Russia's nuclear agency, AFP reported on Saturday August 10th.
The force of the explosion on Thursday August 8th, has been reported to have thrown several of the staff into the sea, however, the military had not initially said that the accident involved nuclear equipment, but said that radiation levels were normal afterwards.
Nevertheless, officials in the nearby city of Severodvinsk reported that radiation levels briefly increased after the accident.
In a brief statement given by the defence ministry, the horrific incident was reported to have been caused during the testing of a liquid propellant jet engine, when an explosion sparked a fire, killing two, in the far northern Arkhangelsk region.
It was not immediately clear whether those two deaths were included in the five, however Russian state news agencies quoted a defence ministry source, as saying that both the defence ministry, and Rosatom employees were killed, and that staff knew of the "potential risk" of the test.
The authorities initially released few details of the accident at the Nyonoksa test site on the White Sea, used for testing missiles deployed in nuclear submarines and ships since the Soviet era.
A later update stated that six defence ministry employees, and a developer were injured, while two specialists died of their wounds, according to the defence ministry’s statement.
A few minutes after news of the accident, residents of Severodvinsk rushed to pharmacies to stock up on iodine, which can be taken to prevent the thyroid gland absorbing radiation, as a wave of panic caused all the iodine and iodine-containing drugs to be sold out within the hour.
The Soviet Union saw the world's worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986, when the authorities sought to cover up the seriousness of the disaster.