A gas explosion ripped through a Russian lab that stores smallpox, anthrax, and Ebola

news
A worker wearing a hazmat suit to protect against the Ebola virus in Dallas, Texas, in 2014. (Associated Press/LM Otero)

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 led to a fire in an area of about 30 square meters (323 square feet), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the state-run TASS news agency reported.

The explosion appeared so severe that local authorities sent 13 fire engines to respond to the emergency, the state-run RT news channel reported. The fire was put out shortly after.

The room had been undergoing repair work, Vector said, and wasn't in use at the time of the explosion.

A gas explosion took place at a viral research lab in Koltsovo, Russia, on Monday.(Google Maps via Business Insider)

A construction worker was taken to a nearby hospital with third-degree burns, RFE/RL reported. He was taken to intensive care, 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 when the gas explosion took place, Vector said, as did Koltsovo's mayor according to RFE/RL. Other viruses — like smallpox and Ebola — are stored elsewhere in the building.

All the glass in Vector's building was broken, RFE/RL and Tass both reported. The building structure, however, was unharmed, Vector said.

The explosion poses no biological or any other threat to the surrounding population, Tass cited Koltsovo Mayor Nikolai Krasnikov as saying.

Vector is one of the only two places in the world authorized to store live specimens of the smallpox virus — the other is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

Vector, founded in 1974, is one of the virus and bioresearch labs in Russia. It was previously used for Soviet bio-weapons research, RFE/RL reported. It's now used to develop vaccines against infectious diseases including swine flu, HIV, and Ebola, Tass said.

A Russian scientist died after accidentally sticking herself with a needle containing the Ebola virus in 2004, The New York Times reported at the time.

Read more from Business Insider:

In this June 16, 2018 photo, Taliban fighters greet residents in the Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan. (Associated Press/Rahmat Gul)

While the U.S. military wants to keep roughly 8,600 troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban's deputy leader has just made clear that his group wants all U.S. service members to leave the country as part of any peace agreement.

"The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand," Sirajuddin Haqqani wrote in a story for the New York Times on Thursday.

Read More
U.S. soldiers inspect the site where an Iranian missile hit at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar province, Iraq January 13, 2020. (REUTERS/John Davison)

In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.

Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.

Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"

The next day was different.

"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."

Read More
A U.S. military vehicle runs a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria near the Turkish border town of Qamishli (Video screencap)

A video has emerged showing a U.S. military vehicle running a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria after it tried to pass an American convoy.

Questions still remain about the incident, to include when it occurred, though it appears to have taken place on a stretch of road near the Turkish border town of Qamishli, according to The War Zone.

Read More
(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.

Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.

Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.

Read More
A cup of coffee during "tea time" discussions between the U.S. Air Force and Japanese Self-Defense Forces at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Feb. 14, 2018 (Air Force photo / Tech. Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

Survival expert and former Special Air Service commando Edward "Bear" Grylls made meme history for drinking his own urine to survive his TV show, Man vs. Wild. But the United States Air Force did Bear one better recently, when an Alaska-based airman peed in an office coffee maker.

While the circumstances of the bladder-based brew remain a mystery, the incident was written up in a newsletter written by the legal office of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on February 13, a base spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose.

Read More