‘No contamination’ after explosion and fire at Russian lethal virus lab

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(BBC) – A major Russian research centre studying lethal viruses including Ebola and HIV says there was no biological contamination from an explosion and fire in one of its buildings. The Vektor centre is in Koltsovo, a town near Novosibirsk in Siberia.

The fire was caused by the explosion of a gas canister but “no work with biological materials was going on there”, a statement said.

Vektor was reportedly a Cold War biological weapons research centre.

The facility was set up in 1974 as a closed institute researching vaccines and “defences against bacteriological and biological weapons”, Russian Interfax news agency reports.

Monday’s explosion, during refurbishment on the fifth floor of a six-storey laboratory building, seriously injured one person and blew out windows. The victim, who suffered burns, is in intensive care.

There was no major structural damage in the incident, the Vektor statement said. The fire spread over 30 sq m (323 sq ft) before being extinguished.

Vektor has one of the world’s largest collections of viruses, including Ebola, according to Interfax. Reports say its collection includes samples of smallpox, bird flu and different strains of hepatitis.