Moscow (CNN)- Residents of a Russian village near the site of a suspected explosion of a nuclear-powered missile have been told to evacuate, Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti reported, citing a local official.
Villagers were asked to leave Nyonoksa on Wednesday morning due to planned military activities, RIA reported Tuesday, citing Ksenia Yudina, head of the press service of the Severodvinsk administration.
Local news portal tv29.ru reported that Nyonoksa would be evacuated by train between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. Wednesday. The settlement is approximately 30 miles from the port city of Severodvinsk.
A local correspondent for the independent investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta said military officials told residents the evacuation of Nyonoksa was not connected to Thursday’s explosion, which claimed the lives of five Russian nuclear specialists.
Earlier Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to confirm widespread international speculation that the accident involved a nuclear-powered cruise missile known as the Burevestnik or Skyfall.
“Accidents, unfortunately, happen. They are tragedies. But in this particular case, it is important for us to remember those heroes who lost their lives in this accident,” he told reporters on a conference call.
Residents view explosion from a distance
The country’s state weather service said radiation levels spiked in the Russian city of Severodvinsk by up to 16 times last Thursday after what officials say was an explosion during a rocket engine test on a sea platform.
“We have received a notification … about the planned activities of the military authorities. In this regard, residents of Nyonoksa were asked to leave the territory of the village from 14 August,” authorities in Severodvinsk were quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
It comes following an accident still cloaked in much secrecy, but which the nuclear agency Rosatom said occurred while engineers in Arkhangelsk, were testing a “nuclear isotope power source” for a rocket engine, a tragedy that fuelled radiation fears and raised questions about a secretive weapons programme.
The accident, which occurred on the coast around 600 miles north of Moscow, killed five Russian nuclear engineers, who were laid to rest in funerals attended by thousands of mourners.