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Blaze on Nuclear Icebreaker Kills 2

Two crew members aboard a nuclear-powered icebreaker were killed and a third seriously injured early Thursday when a deadly blaze tore through the living quarters of the ship in northern Siberia, the vessel's owner said.

The reactor aboard the ship, the Vaigach, was not damaged, officials with Rosatomflot said in a statement on its web site.

The fire broke out in the early morning hours as the icebreaker escorted another ship through Yenisei Bay toward Murmansk from Dudinka, officials said.

Operator Pavel Bazhukov, 32, of Murmansk, and equipment foreman Valery Morozov, 55, of Zheleznogorsk, in the Kursk region, were killed. Senior engineer Alexander Shevchenko, 44, of St. Petersburg, suffered severe burns to his upper respiratory tract and was rushed back by helicopter to Dudinka, Rosatomflot said.

Officials said it appeared the fire was caused by an electrical short circuit. The Vaigach was brought back to Dudinka where it will be inspected and undergo repairs.

The Finnish-built ship has been in service since 1990. Earlier this year, a sister ship, the Taimyr, leaked radioactive cooling water from its reactor in the same area and had to be escorted to Murmansk for repairs.

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