Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Russian Rocket Crashes Seconds After Launch, Toxic Fuel Alight

A Russian Proton-M rocket carrying three Glonass satellites veered off course seconds after its launch from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur space center early Tuesday, crashing in a large fireball. “There was an accident during the Proton-M launch. The rocket fell and exploded on the territory of the launch site,” a spokesman for Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said. There were no reported casualties, but officials said a cloud of poisonous smoke was generated by the rocket’s burning fuel and could spread across the local area. An emergency evacuation of personnel at the site was underway, according to Russian media reports. The reasons for the crash were not immediately clear, but Kazakhstan’s Emergencies Ministry said a near instantaneous failure of the rocket’s first-stage engine was to blame. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered a governmental commission to be formed to look into the causes of the crash and present a list of officials responsible for the accident, said his press secretary, Natalya Timakova. (video)

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