By Dmitry Solovyov
ALMATY, Kazakhstan, July 2 (Reuters) - A Russian rocket carrying three navigation satellites worth around $200 million crashed shortly after lift-off from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan on Tuesday after its engines suddenly switched off.
The accident led to a large spill of heptyl, a highly toxic rocket propellant, but there were no reports of casualties or of any immediate threat to nearby settlements.
State-run Rossiya-24 television showed footage of the Proton-M booster rocket veering off course seconds after lift-off. It fell apart in flames in the air and crashed in a ball of fire near the launch pad.
Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying launch-pad personnel were in bunkers when the rocket lifted off.
Russia's space agency Roscosmos said the accident had been caused by the emergency switch-off of the rocket's engines 17 seconds into the flight.
Russia's state-run RIA news agency said the switch-off could have been caused by a problem with the engine or the guidance system. . . .
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