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2 dead in Russia rocket engine explosion; radiation spikes

Reuters MOSCOW (Reuters) — Two people were killed and a nearby city reported a rise in radiation levels when a rocket engine blew up at a testing site in northern Russia on Thursday, forcing authorities to shut down part of a bay in the White Sea to shipping.

The brief spike in radiation was reported by authorities in the nearby city of Severodvinsk, which has a population of 185,000. This apparently contradicted the Defense Ministry, which was quoted earlier by state media as saying radiation was normal.

RIA news agency quoted the ministry as saying no dangerous substances had been released into the atmosphere by the explosion of what it called a liquid-propellant rocket engine in the Arkhangelsk region. In addition to the two deaths, it said six people were injured in the blast.

“A short-term rise in background radiation was recorded at 12 o’clock in Severodvinsk,” Ksenia Yudina, a spokeswoman for the city authorities, said. A statement on the city’s website did not specify how high radiation levels had risen, but said the level had fully “normalized.”

The rocket engine explosion occurred at a weapons testing area near the village of Nyonoksa in Arkhangelsk region, the Interfax news agency cited unnamed security sources as saying.

Greenpeace cited data from the Emergencies Ministry that it said showed radiation levels had risen 20 times above the normal level in Severodvinsk, which lies around 30 kilometers from Nyonoksa.Speech

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