Two victims killed by a mysterious Russian blast died of radiation and not the explosion it was claimed today, and it was further reported a bath used to wash victims had to be destroyed.
Five specialists died after the blast at the White Sea missile range in the village of Nyonoksa on August 8 and radiation spiked 16 times higher than normal.
Around 60 patients arrived at the Arkhangelsk emergency admissions ward where a bath used to the clean victims had to be secretly removed because it was so radioactive, Russian media reported.
It is claimed the tub was last seen being taken away in the back of a military truck after it was unbolted from the ward.
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A military helicopter brought in to transport the injured to Arkhangelsk Regional Clinical Hospital after an explosion at a missile testing range in Nyonoksa
The village Nyonoksa is the far north of Russian where the testing range is based. Radiation readings in the area were 16 times higher after the blast
It was reported today that a bath tub was so radioactive it had to be unbolted from the Arkhangelsk emergency admissions ward (pictured) and was last seen being taken away by a military truck
Experts said they suspected an explosion and radiation release came from an accident during the testing of a nuclear-powered cruise missile at a facility outside the village of Nyonoksa
It is also alleged that two of the five deaths were not caused by blast injuries but by radiation sickness, according to Novaya Gazeta investigative newspaper.
But the Kremlin suggested today that the barrage of complaints and disclosures from doctors could be part of an anti-Russian campaign to escalate tensions and distort reality, and criticised the medics for making claims anonymously.
Three victims arrived at the Arkhangelsk hospital naked and wrapped in translucent plastic bags on the day of the explosion.
But medics were never told how the men become injured except that it involved an explosion, according to local media.
Shocking disclosures from independent media Meduza revealed how radiation monitors came to the hospital while surgery was underway in the aftermath of the ‘radiation explosion’.
‘The dosimetrists showed up and started measuring beta radiation levels,’ said a Meduza source at the hospital.
‘They ran out of the operating room in terror. Doctors caught them in the hallway, and they confessed that the beta radiation was off the scale.’
Two victims died en route the airport after a decision was taken to fly them to Moscow for urgent treatment, it was alleged.
‘The radiation dose was very high,’ said a source. ‘Radiation sickness developed hour by hour.’
Medical staff say they were lied to that these victims had been ‘decontaminated’.
It is alleged the military escorts who brought in the victims for treatment told medical staff: ‘They’re no danger to you. Get to work.’
Two of the victims died not of injuries from the explosion but of radiation sickness. Pictured is the emergency services and officials in protective gear at the scene
The hospital later found traces of lethal radioactive isotope Caesium-137, an unnamed medical worker told Novaya Gazeta newspaper.
A source at the local Arkhangelsk I. A. Polivany Rescue Service which ferried the victims indicated they were hopelessly unprepared with deal with such an emergency and were not told they were dealing with full-scale radiation.
There appears to have been a bid to actively mislead one medic who suffered contamination with Caesium-137 found in his muscle tissue.
After he told staff treating him he had once been to Thailand on holiday, he was told: ‘You must have eaten some Fukushima crabs!’
This referred to the 2011 nuclear accident in Japan, nowhere near Thailand.
The Meduza source said: ‘The man had been in contact with Caesium for several hours. He had participated in surgeries [with irradiated patients], and he’d stood over the patients without a respirator mask.
‘Then he goes in for an examination, and they tell him: “Oops, well, it’s your own fault. You brought it home from Thailand.”
Before he treated the victims, this medical worker had been given no warning that this was a radiation incident, said the anonymous source.
Vyacheslav Lipshev, 40, was one of the experts killed in the blast. His widow Natalia Alexeeva, 40, posted a tribute: ‘I love you my dear, how will I live without you? You are my everything’
One of the dead was Evgeny Korotaev, 50, a leading electronics engineer and also a popular DJ, whose second wife had given birth to twin girls just seven months ago
Software and hardware specialist Alexey Vyushin (left), 43, and Vyasheslav Yanovsky (right), 71, were both killed
Korotaev’s daughter from the first marriage, Oksana, 26, posted a childhood picture of her with her father and the caption: ‘Daddy, I love you so much.’
The medic said the staff were not seeking to interfere with Russia’s state secrets.
The forceful criticism continued: ‘A nurse doesn’t know the boundaries of these secrets.
‘They brought these people to our hospital. Is that a secret? No. The nurses scrubbed them in our bath. Is that a secret? It is not.
‘In the days afterwards, half the staff said immediately that they would quit. After all, exposure to Caesium-137 increases the risks of developing cancer and a whole host of genetic mutations.
‘And what good is the one examination they just performed on the doctors? Even if the disease doesn’t manifest instantly, that doesn’t mean you can rest easy.
‘Anyone who was in contact with the contaminated now needs constant checkups.’
The source said that the five weapons researchers who died in the explosion were being honoured posthumously as heroes by the Kremlin.
He told Meduza: ‘But the civilians who were irradiated at the same time – I mean the civil contractors who were also at the centre of the testing site, and the doctors at our hospital and the ambulance doctors, and the air-medical responders – will never enjoy such recognition.
‘In three or four years, when they start getting sick and start dying, it won’t prove anything.
‘The documentation about the existence of victims on civilian grounds will be destroyed — it’s already been removed from our hospital.’
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman today claimed that the spate of revelations – likened by some to a Chernobyl-style cover-up on a smaller scale – showed ‘someone wants to deliberately escalate information tensions, distort reality, and present the situation as if there were prerequisites for danger’.
He said: ‘I don’t know what kind of doctors we are talking about. You need to know exactly which doctors, who they are. You can’t say anonymously in this case …’
Putin received ‘very specific information based on an instrumental measurements…(and) an assessment of the situation on the ground,’ he said.
‘This is absolutely professional and there is no reason not to trust this information.’
Employees of Arkhangelsk Rescue Service named after Igor Polivany are pictured training their skills
Rescue workers of the Arkhangelsk Rescue Service are pictured in training
Hospital staff, including senior doctors were made to sign non-disclosure agreements by FSB agents, according to the Moscow Times.
Secret agents also reportedly deleted the files relating to victims of the explosion.
The explosion raised concerns that a prototype of a weapon, called Burevestnik by Russia and known as Skyfall by NATO, is being developed by the Kremlin.
It has not been confirmed a Burevestnik cruise ‘Doomsday’ missile was being tested when the explosion occurred.
But US nuclear experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California insist the blast did come from a Skyfall test.
Anne Pellegrino, a research associate at the James Martin Center, told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle: ‘Our operating theory is that there was a catastrophic failure of some kind during the testing of Russia’s nuclear powered cruise missile. They call it Burevestnik but NATO refers to it as Skyfall.’
It has not been confirmed a Burevestnik cruise missile was being tested during the explosion but US experts claim the deadly blast was from a ‘Skyfall’ rocket
It emerged today that engineers Dmitry Abanin (left) and Aleksander Manyukhin (right), who were injured in the blast were recovering
Specialist Sergey Grishin, who was injured in the blast earlier this month, is reported to be recovering
The mysterious incident led to a ‘radiation spike’ in the nearby city Severodvinsk, according to reports in the aftermath of the explosion.
Three injured testers are reported to be recovering. They were named for the first time as engineers Dmitry Abanin and Aleksander Manyukhin along with another specialist Sergey Grishin.
The five killed in the explosion were Vyasheslav Yanovsky, 71, one of Russia’s most senior nuclear scientists, Vyacheslav Lipshev, 40, director of a secret research institute, Evgeny Korotaev, 50, a leading electronics engineer, Alexey Vyushin, 43, who had developed a high-energy photon spectrometer, and Sergey Pichugin, 45, a testing engineer.