MOSCOW – Thousands of Russians attended the funerals Monday of five Russian nuclear engineers killed in an explosion as they tested a new rocket engine, a tragedy that fueled radiation fears and raised new questions about a secretive weapons program.
The engineers, who died Thursday, were laid to rest Monday in Sarov, home to Russia’s main nuclear weapons research center, where they worked. Flags flew at half-staff in the city 230 miles east of Moscow, which has been a base for Russia’s nuclear weapons program since the late 1940s.
The Defense Ministry initially reported that the explosion at the navy’s testing range near the village of Nyonoksa in the northwestern Arkhangelsk region killed two people and injured six others. The state-controlled Rosatom nuclear corporation then said over the weekend that the blast also killed five of its workers and injured three others. It’s not clear what the final toll is.