Residents of the Russian village of Nyonoksa, which borders the site of Thursday’s nuclear-powered missile explosion, were ordered to evacuate — and then abruptly told not to, according to a report.
On Thursday night, a missile containing nuclear material exploded on a barge floating in the White Sea, just offshore of a missile test site on the coast of Arkhangelsk, a region of Russia some 600 miles north of Moscow. Five workers were killed, and a lack of clarity around the incident has caused confusion about possible radiation.
Nyonoksa, a small village of about 450 people, borders the test site and is fewer than five miles from the White Sea.
Military officials told residents there on Tuesday to prepare for an evacuation by train on Wednesday that would last for only a few hours during an undisclosed military “event,” according to the Washington Post.
But before the evacuation could happen, the military announced it had canceled the event.
The abrupt reversal joins other circumstances that have stoked fears of nuclear contamination.
The Russian nuclear agency, Rosatom, confirmed it’s employees at the site were working on an “isotope power source” for a missile.
American experts suspect the missile could have been a nuclear-powered cruise missile, known in the US as “Skyfall” and in Russia as “Burevestnik” or “Stormy Petrel,” that Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about last year.
After the explosion, the nearby city of Severodvinsk reported a brief spike in gamma radiation — though the report was later taken down.
A resident of Nyonoksa, has been evacuated in the past due to its proximity to the test site, claimed military officials said there were “no changes in the background radiation” and “nothing to worry about.”