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© RIA Novosti. Mikhail Voskresenskiy

Olympic torch erupts in flames during relay

by RIA Novosti at 22/10/2013 15:25

Russia’s Olympic torch was dramatically engulfed by flames during a nationwide relay ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Footage posted online appears to show the Siberian-made torch briefly spouting flames over a meter long, before being seized by accompanying officials, as it was passing through Kostroma, a small city near Moscow, on October 18.

The head of the Sochi Organizing Committee Dmitry Chernyshenko admitted in a statement Tuesday that there was a "strong flame," but denied earlier media reports that there had been an explosion and a 13-year-old girl had suffered light burns during the incident.

"There were no burns, the torch did not explode in the hands of the participant. The "13-year-old girl" was actually an adult employee of the legal service of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee," said Chernyshenko.

The Olympic torch is currently on the opening stages of a relay that will take it 65,000 kilometers (41,140 miles) across Russia, from Kaliningrad in the west, to the Kamchatka peninsula on the Pacific Ocean, before it arrives in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi next year for the Winter Games.

The mishap is the latest in a series of setbacks for the torch, which has already gone out several times during the relay. It extinguished itself for the first time when it was being carried through the Kremlin, moments after the relay was officially launched by President Vladimir Putin in a televised ceremony on Red Square.

Russia's Olympic torches are produced by a factory in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk that also manufactures parts for Russian ballistic missiles, submarines and the Proton and Zenit space rockets.

The organizers of the Sochi Olympics ordered 16,000 torches for the landmark sporting event at a cost of 207 million rubles ($6.4 million), according to Russian business daily Vedomosti.

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