Explosion hits Russian virology laboratory where smallpox, anthrax and Ebola strains stored

Blast blew out windows and caused a fire, injuring one worker

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 17 September 2019 22:50 BST

A gas cylinder exploded at a Russian laboratory where strains of smallpox, anthrax and Ebola are stored.

The blast at the State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology in Koltsovo, in the Novosibirsk region of Siberia, blew out windows and caused a fire.

The explosion happened on the fifth floor of the six-storey building during repairs to a sanitary inspection room, a spokesperson for the centre, known as Vector, said in a statement on Monday.

The fire, which covered 30sqm of the building, was later extinguished.

No biohazardous materials were present in the room at the time, the spokesperson said.

The explosion did not pose a threat to the local population, Nikolai Krasnikov, head administrator of the city, told the state-run TASS news agency.

“When carrying out scheduled repair work in one of the premises on the Vector, in preparation for paintwork, there was a bang, and fire engulfed an area of 30​sqm,” Mr Krasnikov said.

“An employee of a contracting construction organisation who was taken to the hospital was injured, he was assisted and transferred to Novosibirsk burn centre with burns of the lower extremities.”

Vector is one of two official locations where the now-eradicated smallpox virus is stored, the other being the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The facility was formerly used by the Soviet Union for biological warfare research

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