One of the world’s largest virus research centers, located in Siberia, was reportedly engulfed in flames after a sudden explosion rocked the secretive compound, known for its stores of Ebola, HIV, anthrax and other strains.
The situation was quickly upgraded from an ordinary emergency to a major incident as the explosion and fire affected Russia’s research center of virology and biotechnology, often referred to as the Vector Institute.
During the Cold War, it was thought to be part of now-defunct Soviet biological weapons program, meaning that some of the most dangerous strains – including that of smallpox, Ebola, anthrax and certain plagues – are still being kept inside the Institute’s building.
The fire was located and quickly extinguished on the fourth floor where some “construction works” were being carried out.
Reports by local authorities were conspicuously light on detail, with various sources suggesting it was a gas blast that had triggered a fire at the construction site.