Nuclear plant in Ukraine hit by explosion

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KIEV (AP, AFP) - A fire and explosion at a nuclear power plant in central Ukraine killed one worker and seriously injured another yesterday. But officials said there was no threat of a radioactive leak or contamination.

The accident happened near the city of Zaporozha and was connected with the plant's reactor No 5, which had been shut down since 8 May for repairs. Albert Prorokov, of the Ukrainian electricity grid in Kiev, said that workers had been trying to mend a water pipe used to cool the electrical generator.

During the repairs, non-radioactive hydrogen leaked and exploded, badly burning two workers, according to the duty officer at the power plant, which is among Europe's largest. One died and the other suffered burns over 50 per cent of his body. He blamed human error for the explosion.

'This event did not involve any radioactive consequences,' Mr Prorokov said. 'This accident took place during work that was not connected with the atomic part of the station.' He said reactor No 5 was a VVR-type reactor, a different type from the one that exploded at Chernobyl in April 1986.