In this grab taken from a footage provided by the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM press service, people gather for the funerals of five Russian nuclear engineers killed by a rocket explosion in Sarov, the closed city, located 370 kilometers (230 miles) east of Moscow, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019.
Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM via AP
Russian military orders village evacuation, then cancels it
Published 11:35 PDT, Tue August 13, 2019
The Russian military on Tuesday told residents of a village near a navy testing range to evacuate, but cancelled the order hours later, adding to the uncertainty and confusion fueled by a missile explosion last week that led to a brief spike in radiation that frightened residents and raised new questions about the military's weapons program.
MOSCOW — The Russian military on Tuesday told residents of a village near a navy testing range to evacuate, but cancelled the order hours later, adding to the uncertainty and confusion fueled by a missile explosion last week that led to a brief spike in radiation that frightened residents and raised new questions about the military's weapons program.
Initially the military told residents of Nyonoksa, a village of about 500, to move out temporarily, citing unspecified activities at the range. But a few hours later, it said the planned activities were cancelled and rescinded the request to leave, said Ksenia Yudina, a spokeswoman for the Severodvinsk regional administration.
Local media in Severodvinsk said Nyonoksa residents regularly receive similar temporary evacuation orders usually timed to tests at the range.
And just as the Severodvinsk administration reported a brief spike in radiation levels, the
"It's shocking when people who live there, let alone us, have no idea what really happened," Svetlana Alexievich, a Nobel Prize-winning author who wrote a book containing first-hand accounts of the 1986
When reactor No. 4 at the
After Thursday's missile explosion, the Severodvinsk city administration said the radiation level rose to 2 microsieverts per hour for about 30 minutes before returning to the area's natural level of 0.1 microsieverts per hour. Emergency officials issued a warning to all workers to stay indoors and close the windows. Spooked residents rushed to buy iodide, which can help limit the damage from exposure to radiation.
Yudina said that radiation levels in Severodvinsk, a city of 183,000 about 30
Local emergency officials also announced after taking ground samples from around the area that they have found no trace of radioactive contamination.
After Thursday's explosion, Russian authorities also closed part of Dvina Bay on the White Sea to shipping for a month, in what could be an attempt to prevent outsiders from witnessing an operation to recover the missile debris.
"The military's desire to keep a tight lid on information about armed forces ... has led to vitally important information being hidden from the public in a critical situation," independent military analyst Alexander Golts said in a commentary.
But Rosatom's statement saying that the explosion occurred during tests of a "nuclear isotope power source" led observers to conclude it was the Burevestnik (Petrel), a nuclear-powered cruise missile code-named Skyfall by NATO that was first revealed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2018 along with other doomsday weapons.
President Donald Trump backed that theory Monday, tweeting, "The United States is learning much from the failed missile explosion in Russia. We have similar, though more advanced, technology. The Russian 'Skyfall' explosion has people worried about the air around the facility, and far beyond. Not good!"
– Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
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