LOS ANGELES, July 26 (Xinhua) — Two people were killed and four others seriously injured in a large explosion at an airport in the Californian desert on Thursday, authorities said.
The blast occurred at what officials called a remote section at the southeastern edge of the airport at the Mojave Air and Space Port, a flight research center in the Mojave desert about 90 km north of Los Angeles.
The explosion, which was apparently triggered by a tank of nitrous oxide, hit a rocket engine testing facility run by Scaled Composites, operated by space entrepreneur Burt Rutan, at 2:45 p.m. local time (2145 GMT), authorities said.
The explosion did a great deal of damage to the airport, but it was not immediately clear whether any of the company’s buildings or equipment were damaged.
“Reports are two fatalities and at least four critical injuries,” said fire Capt. Doug Johnston.
Paramedics said a fifth person had minor injuries.
Police have expressed concern that personnel at the site could be exposed to hazardous materials.
Fire crews and bomb experts have been sent to the scene.