Russian village evacuated after nuclear missile explosion

Residents of a remote Russian village have been evacuated after a prototype missile that runs on nuclear fuel accidentally exploded.

According to multiple news organizations in Russia’s northern Arkhangelsk region, a special train has been dispatched to the town of Nyonoska to assist with the effort, although concrete details remain sketchy. Around 450 people are believed to be affected. 

It is believed that the missile itself exploded on Thursday, killing five military scientists at a research facility.

Despite initial reports suggesting that there was no immediate threat, it has since been revealed that a jump in gamma radiation of around six to 16 times ordinary background levels was detected in the nearby city of Severodinsk. It appears that this was enough to prompt a dramatic official response. 

Following the incident, confused residents have been speaking to local media about their concerns. According to The Washington Post, one unidentified villager told reporters at ArkhangelskOnline that military officials had previously said that "there were no changes in the radiation background and there was nothing to worry about,” and that “everything is fine both in our village and there, in the military town.”

Russia unveils nuclear missiles that may be invulnerable to interception

Experts believe that the missile at the centre of the controversy was a new type of nuclear-powered cruise missile, dubbed “Burevestnik” or “Storm Petrol”. Burevestinik is believed to be similar to the Skyfall missile designed by NATO, and has been created to facilitate lengthy, complex flight paths and more advanced targeting. 

The international reaction to the news has been one of understandable agitation. Tweeting on Monday, President Trump stated, “The United States is learning much from the failed missile explosion in Russia. We have similar, though more advanced, technology.” He added that “The Russian “Skyfall” explosion has people worried about the air around the facility, and far beyond. Not good!”

Despite frustration at the lack of information and understandable concern over any potential threat, Russian officials have remained dismissive.

The Washington Post reports that regional governor Igor Orlov insisted that the operation was not an evacuation, but rather a “routine measure.” Whether any more information emerges over the coming days remains to be seen.