Explosion at Russian lab housing smallpox, Ebola and other diseases: reports

A gas cylinder exploded at a Russian laboratory known for holding dangerous pathogens on Monday.

The explosion, which occurred on the fifth floor of the building, caused a fire that burned about 30 square metres, according to a statement from the lab. It also blew out some windows, according to media reports.


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One person was injured, and no dangerous pathogens escaped, the BBC reported Tuesday. No work with biological materials was going on in the affected portion of the lab, according to the BBC.

The Vector laboratory in Koltsovo, near Novosibirsk in Siberia, is one of two known laboratories in the world that maintains a stock of the smallpox virus, with the other being at the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. It also reportedly holds Ebola, bird flu and other materials.

The lab was created in 1974 and was used for biological weapons research during the Cold War, the BBC and CNN report.

In 2004, a researcher at the lab died after accidentally jabbing her hand with a syringe containing Ebola. She was experimenting on guinea pigs to help develop a vaccine for the disease, according to reports.

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