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Last Updated: Friday, 7 September 2007, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
New rocket crash alarms Kazakhs
Proton rocket launch
Kazakhstan is urgently reviewing Russia's rocket launches
Investigators in Kazakhstan have found a huge crater and debris from a Russian rocket which crashed in unpopulated countryside on Thursday.

The Proton-M rocket was carrying a Japanese communications satellite.

Fragments weighing up to 400kg (880 lb) and a crater 45 metres (49 yards) wide were found in a cattle-grazing area near the city of Dzhezkazgan.

Further Proton launches have been suspended. The rocket was carrying highly toxic fuel when it crashed.

The Russian space agency Roskosmos says a rocket booster motor malfunctioned shortly after launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome.

A similar crash happened in late July, involving a Russian Dnepr rocket.

In the latest incident, Roskosmos promised to pay Kazakhstan compensation for the environmental damage. The crash caused a fire in the steppe, but no casualties were reported.

Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov, quoted by Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency, described the crash as "absolutely outrageous".

Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, independent Kazakhstan has been leasing Baikonur to Russia.

It is the world's oldest space centre - the place where the first ever satellite was launched.

Country profile: Kazakhstan
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