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Toxic Gas Cloud Threatens 300,000 in Russian Far East

VLADIVOSTOK, Jun 17, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) A cloud of highly toxic gas, caused by a leaking ballistic missile, is hovering over the town of Nakhodka, in the Russian far east, home to 300,000 people, authorities said Friday.

The RSM-50 intercontinental missile was damaged in an accident and around 100 litters (26 gallons) of fuel leaked out forming a 300 to 500 meter (1,000 to 1,600 foot) yellow cloud of toxic gas on contact with the air.

The gas attacks the skin and the lungs, a police official was reported as saying by the Interfax news agency.

Four sailors were contaminated after the accident and rushed to hospital, Russian Pacific fleet officials said.

The accident happened at the port of Chajma where nuclear submarines are maintained.

The RSM-50 is a 14-metre (42-foot) -long ballistic missile, with a range of 6,500 kilometers (4,000 miles), which can be fitted with a nuclear warhead, a specialist from the AVN military information agency told AFP. ((c) 2000 Agence France Presse)

-- Martin Thompson (, June 17, 2000

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