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Putin‘s regime has been accused of ‘covering-up’ the scale of the death toll at a top secret Russian weapons research facility after a local journalist claimed that at least 25 were killed in the deadly blaze – not ‘up to seven’ like Kremlin-backed media insists.
A criminal probe has been launched after video showed an inferno ripping through the Second Central Research Institute of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation in Tver, where Moscow’s Iskander missiles are designed, on Thursday.
Four military scientists were forced to jump out of windows from the burning building, with state media variously reporting that five or seven people were killed.
But it is now claimed that at least 25 died, possibly including some of Russia’s leading missile scientists. Two days after the fire, a search for survivors trapped under rubble is still underway and at least five people are reportedly in intensive care.
The institute is central to the design of Iskander missiles, which Putin has unleashed on Ukraine, as well as Russia’s S-400 missile defence system. It is also involved in other ‘secret projects’. The damage is seen as a blow to Putin’s missile modernisation programme.
Firefighters at a military research institute in Tver, Russia, engulfed in flames, April 21, 2022
A huge fire broke out in the Second Central Research Institute of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, Tver
The burned out remains of a military research institute in Tver, Russia, after a fire on April 21, 2022
The cause was not clear but there were reports of ‘poisonous bluish-black smoke’
Four military scientists were forced to jump out of windows from the burning institute in Tver
Left, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Right, Alexander Gamburg, journalist from Tver, Russia
Respected local journalist Alexander Gamburg reported on SOTA Telegram channel that he had exclusively seen the list of the ‘perished’. However, he said he could not give further details because of Russian censorship and ‘not to compromise people important and dear to me’.
He said: ‘Criminal investigators are working at the scene until Sunday, after which they are due to announce the losses.’
Gamburg added: ‘As of 10pm on April 22 there were 25 people. Seven from from April 21, and 18 people were found and identified on April 22. The youngest one is a major, a man born in 1983. The oldest is 90 or 91, born in 1931.
‘I don’t know what he was doing at his workplace at the research institute at this age. Most of the perished are men. The numbers are not final. This is a big tragedy.’
Four military scientists were forced to jump out of windows from the burning building
A military research institute in Tver, Russia, pictured after fire on the evening of April 21, 2022
A huge fire erupted at a top secret Russian military research facility
A case has been opened into how the fire was allowed to happen at the key Russian defence facility. One rescued military scientist said they were faced with toxic black smoke blowing through long corridors, adding: ‘My colleague was feeling worse than me, I was still conscious.
‘He was no longer on his feet. I told the fireman that he should be pulled out first, but the rescuer replied that he could not raise him to his feet and I needed to be saved.
‘Unfortunately, the colleague could not be resuscitated, he died. I came to my senses only in the hospital, after my first injection.’
An emergency helicopter was deployed to drop water on the burning institute which is now gutted.