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Russian Virology Research Center Hit By Blast

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Russia's consumer-safety watchdog said that the room where the explosion occurred was holding no biohazardous substances. (file photo)

A gas-cylinder explosion has sparked a fire at a Russian laboratory housing one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of dangerous viruses.

Russia's consumer-safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said on September 16 that one worker was sent to hospital for third-degree burns suffered in the incident at the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology (Vector) near the Russian city of Novosibirsk.

It added that no biohazardous substances were present in the sanitary inspection room at the time of the fire.

The city's mayor, Nikolai Krasnikov, said the laboratory, on the fifth floor of a six-story building in the city of Koltsovo, was undergoing renovation and repair work at the time of the incident.

All glass in the building was said to have been broken in the blast. A fire covering about 30 square meters was extinguished after the explosion.

In the 1970-1980s, the research center developed biological and bacteriological weapons, as well as means of protection against them.

Under Rospotrebnadzor supervision, the center stores dangerous strains of smallpox, anthrax, Ebola, and other viruses.

Vector is one of two institutions on the planet where the smallpox virus survives. The other is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

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