A gas explosion at the State Reseach Center of Virology and Biotechnology in Russia has gotten Twitter users in a panic and for good reason. The facility is home to a slew of stored viruses including Ebola, Smallpox, and Anthrax.
The Russian State Center for Research on Virology and Biotechnology confirmed a blast occurred on 16 September after a gas cylinder exploded while regularly scheduled repair work was being done.
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Facility says no biological material in room explosion occurred
The work was on the fifth floor of the six-story building. In the statement, the research facility said: "There was an explosion of a gas cylinder with a fire (eliminated on an area of 30 m2 ) on the 5th floor of a 6-story reinforced concrete laboratory building in the sanitary inspection room being repaired. No work with biological material on the body was carried out. 1 person was injured, the building structure was not damaged."
Russia's TASS news agency reported an employee for the construction organization carrying out the repair work was taken to the hospital after the fire in an area of 30 square meters broke out. The victim is in intensive care, being treated for burns to the lower extremities. TASS reported the explosion occurred in a room that didn't have any biohazard substances. Glass was reportedly shattered but there was no structural damage to the building.
Twitter isn't buying it
That didn't calm the Twittersphere which used the microblogging platform to imagine the worst results of this explosion and engage in a heaping of conspiracy theories.
It doesn't help that Vector, as its called, is one of the only two places on the planet that has Smallpox stockpiles. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is the other facility that stores Smallpox.
It also comes fifteen years after the death of a Vector scientist who was stuck with a needle that had Ebola on it, according to Forbes. Chernobyl is also fresh in the minds of millions thanks to HBO's recent series focusing on the nuclear reactor explosion and the subsequent cover-up back in the 80s. It was one of the worst nuclear disasters the world has witnessed.
This is FRIGHTENING. Explosion and fire at Vector Institute on Monday raise questions, concerns. A high-ranking Soviet bioweapons official who defected to the US in the ‘90s said the smallpox virus was moved to the Vector Institute for bioweapons research. https://t.co/N2ZOX46vqV— Lily Evans Potter (@LilyPotter130) September 17, 2019
Oh whew yeah woohoo we got nothin to worry about whew. A publication called RT says that the explosion at the Vector bioweapons lab in Russia was just a little accident in an empty room where no smallpox virus was stored. That’s what this RT is sayin. Hey where’s RT from anyhow.— Robert Davenport (@citynightcap) September 17, 2019
Vector was founded in 1974 to create biological weapons
Vector, located in Koltosvo in the Novosibirsk region of Sibera was founded in 1974 to develop biological weapons to protect Russia during the Cold War. It has now become one of the world's biggest virological and biotechnological research facilities in the country. The explosion comes a few weeks after a nuclear explosion at a Russian military facility at the White Sea prompted a nearby evacuation after radiation levels measured 16 times higher than normal in the area.