The Russian military appeared to make a face on Tuesday after telling residents of a village near a navy trial to evacuate after a mysterious explosion, only to cancel hours later .
The decision was added to the uncertainty surrounding the incident as local officials claimed soil samples showed that radiation levels had not increased after the explosion.
The deadly explosion occurred nearly a week ago in a military shooting range in Nyonoksa, located in the far northern Arkhangelsk region.
Russia's state weather agency, Rosgidromet, announced Tuesday that radiation levels were spiked four to 16 times after the accident in the port city of Severodvinsk, located nearly 12 miles from military test set. Local authorities in Severodvinsk, a city of 183,000, initially reported a brief spike in radiation levels after the explosion but claimed it did not pose any health risks.
But on Tuesday, the Russian military told residents in Nyonoksa, a village of some 500, to leave as part of an evacuation planned because of unspecified activities in scope of testing. Hours later, however, the military said, the planned activities were canceled and allowed residents to stay home, Severodvinsk regional administration told the Associated Press.
A Nyonoksa resident told local news outlet TV29.ru that locals were often told to leave the area, according to the Moscow Times.
"It happens regularly – about once a month – and everyone is evacuated. From the village," the man was quoted as saying.
Russia's Ministry of Defense initially claimed the blast killed two people and injured six, but a state-controlled agency, Rosatom, has revealed that the blast killed five of its workers and injured three more .. About a week after the explosion, it was still unclear what the final death was.
After a missile explosion Thursday, Severodvinsk city administration said radiation l The evel rose to 2 microsieverts per hour for about 30 minutes before returning to the natural level of the area at 0.1 microsieverts per hour. Emergency officials warned all workers to stay indoors and close the windows, as scared residents rushed to buy iodine pills, which would help limit the damage from radiation exposure.
On Wednesday, local emergency officials said after taking soil samples from around the area, laboratory analysis found no radioactive contamination, TASS agency reports.
"All these days, the natural background in the cities of Arkhangelsk, Severodvinsk and Novodvinsk, in the Primorsky and Onezhsky districts has remained within normal range," a statement said.
Neither the Defense Ministry nor Rosatom named the type of rocket that exploded, saying it had a liquid propellant, but the state-controlled nuclear agency said explosion as engineers tested "a nuclear isotope power source" for a rocket. Defense officials and outside observers believe it was a missile that Russia called 9M730 Burevestnik. The NATO alliance has designated it the SSC-X-9 Skyfall, which was first announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2018 along with other weapons of significance.
During his 2018 state of the country address, Putin abolished the missile, along with other new weapons that he allegedly made by NATO-led missile defense system "useless." The Russian leader announced that the nuclear-powered missile would have unlimited range, fly at a high speed and maneuverability that would allow any missile defense to be fired.
One of the world's most respected missile launchers, East Asia Nonproliferation Program Director Jeffrey Lewis, said on Tuesday that the US had tried to build a similar manned cruise missile in the 1950s and 60s but the project was abandoned because it would not make sense to put a nuclear reactor inside a missile.
"This is a technological nightmare and an ecological danger," Lewis told Fox News. "This is not a technology that I think makes sense for the United States. For whatever reason, Russians have a different meaning, probably because they treat environmentalists differently than we do in the United States."  Lewis said from the shape of the cruise missile, it appears to be flying subsonic, below the speed of sound, and "like a plane."
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"I'm not sure this system will ever work," he added.
Fox News & # 39; Luke Tomlinson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.