A “stolen” 10 meter-long Soviet-era, anti-aircraft missile has exploded at a recycling centre in eastern Russia, killing two and injuring one, the Telegraph reports. Russian media were reportedly alerted to the explosion of the large-scale missile in the Siberian city of Chita after a YouTube user uploaded a car dashcam video showing the moment of the blast.
According to the Telegraph, a criminal investigation was opened into the “illegal acquisition and storage of explosive device” after two warheads from a S-200 Angara missile were found at the blast site. Local authorities said it appeared that the warhead had detonated while workers were cutting it down for scrap metal.
The exploded missile was an S-200 Angara, also known as the SA-5 “Gammon” in NATO countries, a long rage, medium-to-high altitude surface-to-air missile system. The SAM has been in service since 1967s, but has since been replaced by the S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air models.
It is unknown how the missile came to be at a recycling plant. Local news website by24.org says that the seven tonne missile “had been stolen” from a military base by persons unknown and taken to the facility in exchange for cash. It had likely exploded while recycling workers were trying to dismantle it.
News website The Insider says that emergency response workers later found another intact rocket from the S-200 missile system.
The S-200 SAM has a range of 300 km
According to BBC, the incident has ignited lively discussion on Russian social media, with many asking on popular social network VKontakte how it came to be at a recycling plant in the first place. “What was a missile doing at a non-ferrous scrap metal collection point?” asked Demid Tkachenko.
“We’ve got so many rusty weapons in Russia that people are selling for scrap,” added Mayya Yarovaya, who said that the consequences of this incident “are tragic”.
With an extra dose of snark the Telegraph adds that “selling weaponry for scrap is not unusual in remote Russian regions. Last month the National Guard in the Kaliningrad region reported discovering World War II shells at a local scrap yard.”