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Russian engineers buried after rocket explosion at Arctic test site

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By Angela Barnes
Russian engineers buried after rocket explosion at Arctic test site

Thousands of people have attended the funerals of five Russian nuclear engineers that were killed by an explosion as they tested a new rocket engine.

The incident, which took place on a testing site in the Arctic on Thursday, fuelled radiation fears and raised questions about a secretive weapons programme.

The engineers were laid to rest in the city of Sarov, which hosts Russia’s main nuclear weapons research centre, where they worked.

The Defence Ministry initially said the explosion in Nyonoksa in the northwestern Arkhangelsk region killed two people and injured a further six.

However, the state-controlled Rosatom nuclear corporation said the blast killed five of its workers and injured three others.

It's not clear what the final toll is.

The company said the victims were on a sea platform testing a rocket engine and were thrown into the sea by the explosion.

Rosatom director Alexei Likhachev praised the victims as "true heroes" and the "pride of our country."

Euronews spoke to the editor of the Barents Observer, Thomas Nilsen, who has been following the incident closely. He said there has been an increase in radiation as a result of it.

"The radiation increased for a short period of time last Thursday and the radiation levels reported are up to twenty times higher than normal background.

"The levels today, however, in the area of the explosion is a bigger question because now this is a closed military area," he said.

Watch the full interview in the player above.