- A gas cylinder at a major Russian research lab exploded on Monday and caused a fire.
- The explosion at the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology, also known as Vector, was in a room that was undergoing repair work.
- Vector houses dangerous pathogens including anthrax, Ebola, and live specimens of smallpox.
- The mayor of the town said the explosion posed no biological or any other threat to the surrounding population.
- One construction worker was taken to a hospital to be treated for burns, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
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A research lab in Siberia that stores dangerous pathogens including smallpox, anthrax, and Ebola was hit by a gas explosion on Monday.
A gas cylinder exploded in a sanitary inspection room on the fifth floor of the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology building in the city of Koltsovo. The lab — also known as Vector — confirmed the explosion in a statement.
The explosion appeared so severe that local authorities sent 13 fire engines, the state-run RT news channel reported. The fire was put out shortly after.
The room had been undergoing repair work and wasn't being used at the time of the explosion, Vector said.
A construction worker was taken to a nearby hospital with third-degree burns, RFE/RL reported. He was in the intensive-care unit, Tass reported, citing the hospital.
Officials have opened a criminal investigation into lab authorities over the explosion, the Sib.fm news site reported.
There was no biohazardous material in the room at the time, Vector said. Other pathogens — like smallpox and Ebola — are stored elsewhere in the building, RFE/RL reported.
All the glass in the Vector building was broken, RFE/RL and Tass reported. The structure, however, was unharmed, Vector said.
Koltsovo's mayor, Nikolai Krasnikov, said the explosion posed no biological or any other threat to the surrounding population, Tass reported.
Vector is one of only two places in the world authorized to store live specimens of the smallpox virus — the other is the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Vector, founded in 1974, is one of the biggest virus and bioresearch labs in Russia. It was previously used for Soviet bioweapons research, RFE/RL reported. It's now used to develop vaccines for infectious diseases including swine flu, HIV, and Ebola, Tass said.
In 2004, a Russian scientist at Vector died after accidentally sticking herself with a needle containing the Ebola virus, The New York Times reported.