Explosions at Russian Military Sites
On the 5th and 9th of August, weapon stores at an ammunition depot in Achinsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai exploded sending artillery shells raining down on nearby villages and roads. On the 8th of August an explosion was reported at a Russian Military test site near the village of Nyonoksa, around 28km from the nearby city of Severodvinsk.
The first reports of an explosion were recorded on the evening of Monday 5th August, after some initial large explosions, 1 huge explosion ripped through the site. The explosion was calculated to be around the same size as a 10kt nuclear blast, to put that in perspective, the Nuclear Bomb dropped on Hiroshima was around 15kt. The video below shows that explosion recorded from a distance of 3.2km
Soon after the initial explosions, it was reported that the nearby village of Kamenka located just 300m away from the ammunition depot would be completely evacuated.A video was uploaded showing evacuations as the emergency sirens of the village sounded. The video below shows the evacuation.
The explosions continued into the night and soon the 5th district of the city of Achinks was evacuated. The total number of people evacuated is thought to number around 15,000 from the initial explosions.
The nearby RUSAL aluminium factory was forced to suspend production due to the explosion and the next day there was significant damage to some buildings as debris from the explosion had hit the site around 5km away from the ammunition depot..
The emergency situation was declared over on the 7th August by Russian authorities. The damage of the nearby village and the ammunition depot could then be assessed. The nearby village of Kameka suffered extensive damage and some artillery shells that had been scattered in the explosion were found..
A video taken from a helicopter showed the destruction from the air around the ammunition depot, numerous forest fires had started nearby as a result of the explosions.
Satellite images showed the full extent of the damage to the ammunition depot, with multiple craters and buildings destroyed. As seen in the gif below, the damage was significant.
The situation was presumed to be over in Achinsk until the 9th August when it was reported that additional explosions were being heard at the ammunition depot. This was confirmed and another large plume of smoke was seen and the village of Kamenka was again evacuated. The explosion was reportedly caused by a lightning strike from a passing storm that struck a pile of unexploded ammunition that was being recovered.
The day after on the 10th August a Russian military AN-124 was pictured at the nearby airport in Krasnoyarsk offloading armoured vehicles to help in the clean up operation as thousands of unexploded shells still litter the surrounding area.
Over 30 people were hospitalised as a result of the 2 explosions and 1 russian service member died in the first explosion. The ammunition depot will be permanently decommissioned next year as a result of the damage caused by the explosions.
The picture below shows 45 year old Andrei Marachkov who worked as a firefighter in a military unit and died in the explosions on August 5.
On the 8th August an explosion was reported at a military facility in Severodvinsk in North West Russia. The explosions was then confirmed to have been at a Russian missile test site near the village of Nyonoksa. We now know the explosion happened on a recovery barge off the coast of the facility.
The Russian Defence Ministry said “During testing of a liquid jet engine, an explosion and combustion of the product occurred.”
There was immediate concerns after the explosion as authorities in the nearby city of Severodvinsk located 47km East of the test site reported a brief spike in background radiation levels between 11:50 and 12:30 local time but that the levels had returned to normal by 14:00. It was initially reported that 2 people had been killed in the explosion and multiple people had been injured, including Russian defence officials.
Later on that evening a video surfaced which showed the severity of the situation, a helicopter being used to evacuate injured personnel from the site was met by 2 people in Hazmat suits who monitored the helicopter before it was allowed to offload the injured personnel.
The next day it was reported that the injured personnel had been flown to Moscow to receive specialist treatment. This was accompanied by a video showing a convoy of ambulance driving through Moscow with the drivers wearing Hazmat suits and the rear doors of the ambulance sealed in plastic film.
The next piece of information received about the incident was from the Russian Atomic Energy Corporation, ROSATOM. They issued a statement where they confirmed that 5 of their employees had been killed, this raised the death toll to 7. Three of the ROSATOM employees were buried on Monday 12th August in the closed town of Sarov that is the Russian center for nuclear research, 2 of the employees bodies are still missing . The names of the 3 bodies recovered are Evgeny Korotaev, Sergey Pichugin and Vladislav Yanovsky.
Satellite images from the test site give an insight into what missie was being tested at the time of the explosion. Given the spike in radiation and the presence of ROSATOM employees, it is most likely that Russia was conducting a test of the SSC-X-9 Skyfall (9M730 Burevestnik).The missile contains a small nuclear reactor that it uses for propulsion, it’s suspected that the missile test failed and when the engineers went to recover the missile on a barge, the missile exploded when it was removed from the water. Multiple pieces of information suggest this was the Skyfall, the Serebryanka nuclear fuel carrier was spotted just off the coast of the test site. The Serebryanka was involved in the recovery effort from a previous failed test of the Skyfall. The image below from Planet Labs show the activity in the area around the test site.
Thanks to @AuroraIntel for help with the article.
Below is the link to our tweets from our real time OSINT investigations into the events as we keep up with events as they happen.