Russia’s Atomic Energy Agency has said that an explosion that was caused by radiation levels in the Arangelsk region was caused by an accident during a test of “isotope power source for liquid-fueled rocket engines”.
In a statement released late Friday, Rosatom said five of its employees died due to the accident and three more are being treated for burns.
The statement was the first confirmation that the agency was involved in the incident, which reduced radiation levels in the nearby city of Severodvinsk by 20 times its normal level.
A description of the Rosatom incident may indicate that it was testing the nuclear-powered cruise missile Burevestnik mentioned during a speech by Vladimir Putin last year.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense confirmed the explosion on Thursday, stating that two people were killed and six injured in a botched test of a liquid-fueled rocket engine. The injured include ministerial staff and civilian contractors.
Rosatom’s statement may indicate that three of those who died were previously reported injured. Despite such reports that the injured were taken to Moscow for medical attention, neither their names nor locations were confirmed.
Radiation levels rose in Severodvinsk for about half an hour, refuting official claims by the Ministry of Defense that there was no increase in radiation levels. Severodvinsk, in a statement, confirmed the spike in radiation levels from its website, stating that the ministry was managing the response to the incident.
While local authorities urged calm, residents in many cities stock up on iodine, which is often used to limit the effects of radiation exposure.
Russia closed a creek for civilian traffic in the White Sea for a month, speculating that either the water was contaminated or a search operation was being carried out.