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Missile explosion kills 2 people at air base near Moscow

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Vladimir Mikhailov said the missile's engine had spontaneously combusted, causing the explosion, and added that an officer and a serviceman had died immediately.

MOSCOW, April 28 (RIA Novosti) - An air-to-air missile exploded Friday at an air base outside Moscow, killing two servicemen, the head of the Air Force said.

Vladimir Mikhailov said the explosion had occurred at 8.30 a.m (4.30 a.m. GMT) at a military base at Sergiyev Posad, 70 kilometers (43 miles) northeast of Moscow.

Mikhailov said the missile's engine had spontaneously combusted, causing the explosion, and added that an officer and a serviceman had died immediately.

"Several dozen missiles were delivered to the testing range for disposal by being exploded, but one of them exploded earlier than planned, killing Maj. Sergei Kurtin and Private Maksimov," he said, adding that an investigation was underway.

Mikhailov told a news briefing that the missile was of the outdated Soviet-era R-40 series, which used to be installed on Mig-31 Foxhound fighters.

Disposal procedures included cutting a missile into three parts before exploding it, and separating a warhead and engine from an airframe, Mikhailov said, adding that a private firm that won a tender had successfully destroyed about 300 missiles so far.

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