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Monday, 10 February, 2003, 09:29 GMT
Pakistan probes nuclear site blast
Pakistani authorities have launched an inquiry into an explosion that killed one person at a nuclear facility near the capital Islamabad.

An inquiry is being carried out into whether the blast was caused by human negligence or by some other cause

Pakistani official

The blast occurred at a gas plant within the premises of the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Technology (Pinstech).

The explosion, at Nilore, 25 km from the capital, left another person critically injured.

Officials say the blast occurred at the Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences during research work on Sunday.

The victim, a laboratory operator, was hit by splinters from a cylinder containing liquid nitrogen, officials say.

Safeguards

"An inquiry is being carried out into whether the blast was caused by human negligence or by some other cause," an official told the Associated Press news agency.

The head of Pakistan's nuclear energy programme, Pervez Butt, told the BBC that the accident had not affected the institute's research nuclear reactor - and there was no call for alarm.

Mr Butt visited the scene on Sunday and ordered an inquiry.

Pinstech's nearby nuclear reactor - used for research and training - uses highly enriched uranium as fuel.

Though Pakistan has a highly classified nuclear weapons programme, many of its facilities are not open to international inspections.

However, the research reactor is covered by safeguards from the International Atomic Agency (IAEA).

See also:

26 Nov 02 | Asia-Pacific
30 Dec 02 | South Asia
04 Jun 02 | South Asia
29 Jan 03 | Country profiles
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