Russia: 'Soviet rocket' floats into Siberia garden

The engine sitting in flood water Image copyright Sergey Ill

A five-tonne Soviet rocket engine appears to have washed up in a Russian village affected by flooding.

The disused military missile has floated into the garden of a traffic policeman in the village of Malougrenevo in southern Siberia, Sibnet news website says. It apparently belongs to someone else in the same village, who had wanted to use it as an underground cesspit. Two dogs were found inside the 16ft by 8ft (5m by 2.5m) tube - the villagers have named them Belka and Strelka after two "space dogs" sent into orbit by the Soviet Union in 1960.

Local officials says the military souvenir - which was designed to carry fuel for inter-continental ballistic missiles - now poses no danger to the public. "There is no fuel in the section, and it is no way dangerous," says Nikolai Dochilov, general director of the Altai Science and Production Centre. "The water flooding into Altai region is a greater danger than the object found here." The rocket owner, Tatyana Zhdanova, says her family bought it last year, but it had "broken the fence and floated off" during the recent heavy floods. "Soon we will put it up for auction and will sell it as an antique," she says.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Altai region has seen severe flooding in recent weeks

Some social media users have speculated the missile engine could have been part of a Proton-M rocket that exploded after launch in nearby Kazakhstan on 16 May, Sibnet reports. But the engine, which is around 30 years old, has never actually been used. The missiles were reportedly decommissioned in the 1990s and some parts were sold to the general public after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The head of the village, Sergei Popov, insists there's nothing unusual about the misplaced missile part. "No rocket sections have fallen on us," he says. "The police are looking into the find, and that's only because it washed up in a traffic policeman's garden."

Southern Siberia saw heavy flooding at the beginning of June. As many as 10,000 people were evacuated and 15 bridges washed away, Voice of Russia reports.

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