newsdog Facebook

Explosion at Russian research facility that houses live smallpox virus

Delhi News-Record 2019-09-17 18:31:14

Explosion at Russian research facility that houses live smallpox virus

A gas canister exploded during repairs, sending one person to hospital

Published on: September 17, 2019 | Last Updated: September 17, 2019 9:01 AM EDT

No biohazard materials were stored in the room where the explosion occurred, a statement said, and the city's mayor assured there is no biological threat to the local population, CNN reported. MIKE NELSON/AFP/Getty Images

A gas explosion set fire Monday to a Russian biological research facility — one of only two known centres in the world that keeps samples of the fatal smallpox virus.

The blast happened after a gas canister exploded during repairs on the fifth floor of a six-storey laboratory at the Russian State Centre for Research on Virology and Biotechnology, also known as Vector, in the city of Koltsovo, about 20 km from Novosibirsk.

Some windows were blown out but there was no structural damage.

One person suffered severe burns and was sent to intensive care.

No biohazard materials were stored in the room where the explosion occurred, a statement said, and the city’s mayor assured there is no biological threat to the local population, CNN reported.

The centre was founded in 1974 as an institute that housed what was believed to be a covert Soviet biological weapons program, but is now one of the world’s largest research centres, developing vaccines and cures for infectious diseases.

Currently, scientists are developing vaccines for HIV and swine flu and just wrapped up clinical trials for an Ebola vaccine.

The only other known institute approved to house live samples of the smallpox virus is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The blast comes just one month after an explosion at a nuclear missile testing site in the far northern Arkhangelsk region killed five scientists.

The Russians caused confusion and raised concerns of a nuclear cover up after first stating only two people had died, then later upping the count to five with the cause being radiation poisoning.

In July, a nuclear-powered submarine caught fire and killed 14 sailors. It took Moscow nearly a week to respond, address the issue and confirm there was a nuclear reactor aboard the vessel.