Two of the Russian scientists killed in a mysterious explosion during a weapons test died from radiation poisoning and not the blast, it has been claimed.
The explosion earlier this month at the White Sea missile range in the village of Nyonoksa killed five specialists and saw a spike in radiation that was up to 16 times higher than normal.
Three victims arrived at the Arkhangelsk Regional Clinical Hospital naked and wrapped in translucent plastic bags on the day of the explosion, August 8.
Around 60 patients arrived for treatment, but medics were never told how the men become injured except that it involved an explosion, according to local media.
Two of the victims died not of injuries from the explosion but of radiation sickness before they could be taken to Burnazyan Federal Medical and Biophysical Centre in Moscow for treatment, according to Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
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
An unnamed official working at the site told the newspaper the patients arrived suffering from very high doses of radiation.
He said: ‘Two of the patients did not make it to the airport and died. The radiation dose was very high, and symptoms of radiation sickness grew every hour.’
The employee added that several of the victims complained of tingling sensations in their faces and hands.
He added: ‘Doctors and nurses used soap solutions for decontamination. The medical staff had only face masks to protect themselves.’
One doctor was later found to have Caesium-137 – a radioactive isotope that is a byproduct of the nuclear fission of uranium-235 – in his muscle tissue, according to Russian media.
The Russian Defence Ministry claimed only two people were killed, but Rosatom – the Russian atomic agency – said five of its workers died when they were blown off the sea-based platform into the water.
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
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
Rosatom also confirmed a device using a ‘isotopic sources of fuel on a liquid propulsion unit’ was destroyed in the blast.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted on Tuesday that a ‘nuclear-propelled missile’ was being tested at the time of the explosion.
But Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov claimed the accident had nothing to do with the testing of nuclear weapons.
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.
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
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’
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 during the explosion.
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
The mysterious incident led to a ‘radiation spike’ in the nearby city Severodvinsk, according to reports in the aftermath of the explosion.
Bodies of the victims were initially lost but later found and funerals for all those killed were to be held in a secret closed nuclear research town in Sarov from where foreigners are banned.
According to one version, the troubling missile accident came as the scientists were working on the nuclear engine of deadly Burevestnik cruise rocket with ‘unlimited range’ – nicknamed the ‘Flying Chernobyl’ – when it exploded.
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.
Like the other dead, he worked for the classified Institute of Experimental Physics based in Sarov, 235 miles east of Moscow, known as Arzamas-16 in Soviet times.