THE bodies of two nuclear researchers killed in a “radiation” explosion at a top secret Russian site have mysteriously vanished, it was reported today.
They were thought to have been “thrown into the sea” when a rocket engine test went wrong but their remains cannot be found, it has now emerged.
The country’s state nuclear agency acknowledged for the first time today that five of its personnel were killed in the incident at a secret weapons testing site in the sub-Arctic far north.
Now a report from BAZA online news source said the five were from a top-secret scientific nuclear research town called Sarov – closed to outsiders and foreigners – where they were involved in “experimental physics”.
The report claimed that the bodies of the two of the scientists – whose family names were Yanovsky and Lipshev – had not been found after the accident.
Rosatom – the country’s state nuclear energy corporation – has now said that the incident was on an offshore platform.
“After the explosion, some Rosatom employees were thrown into the sea,” said a statement.
“They were searched for while there was a hope to find them alive.”
The bodies of the three others who died – named Yevgeny Korotayev, Sergey Pichugin and Vladislav Yanovskiy – were found and then will be buried on Monday, said the report.
A total of 15 more were wounded and “all of them received serious doses of radiation” during an accident involving “isotope power sources”.
Some are known to have been flown to Moscow for treatment.
Details of the explosion and fire on Thursday have been slow to emerge.
Initially, civilian authorities in nearest city Severodvink reported a “spike” in radiation which was later said to have radially dissipated.
Details of the original “spike” report were later removed.
“Rosatom will provide financial support to the families of the deceased employees, and this is not just about one-time assistance,” said the statement.
“The situation is very alarming because effectively no information is being released and nothing is being admitted,” said Russia’s Ecoprotection group co-chairman Vladimir Slivyak.
Authorities shut down part the White Sea for a month after the incident.
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Yet public shipping information from Arkhangelsk port showed the area had been closed for the preceding month, without explanation.
Greenpeace cited data from the Emergencies Ministry that it said showed radiation levels had risen 20 times above the normal level.
The incident is believed to have been in weapons testing waters off Nyonoska.