On Monday, a gas explosion has caused a fire at the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR, aka the Vector Institute, a biological research center in Koltsovo, Russia. The facility is known for housing samples of viruses ranging from smallpox to Ebola.
The Vector Institute is analogous to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Army Chemical and Biological Defense Command that conducts epidemiological research and maintains live samples of pathogens.
The center said that the gas explosion took place during scheduled maintenance work in the sanitary inspection room on the fifth floor.
Nikolai Krasnikov, the Head of Administration of Koltsovo city, told Russian news agency, TASS, “The incident doesn’t pose a threat to the surrounding community.”
One worker was injured and suffered from third-degree burns due to the explosion. The blast that covered nearly 30 square meters was later extinguished.
According to TASS, there were no biohazardous substances involved in the blast. Also, there was no structural damage caused by the explosion.
It has been reported that the center’s researchers recently completed successful trials on a vaccine for Ebola. Despite such a reputation, the institute has always been under scanner. A high-level Soviet bioweapons official claimed that the institute received samples of smallpox to conduct research on bioweapons.
The Vector Institute’s blast is closely related to another explosion that took place at a Russian facility that conducts high-tech, risky research. Last month, five nuclear scientists died after an accident at a missile test site. US authorities believe that the scientists were working on a “nuclear-powered cruise missile” at the site.