Ufa train wreck

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Ufa train disaster
Date 4 June 1989
Time 1:15
Location Iglinsky District, Bashkir ASSR
Country Soviet Union
Rail line Kuybyshev Railway
Statistics
Trains 2
Passengers 1,300
Deaths 575
Injuries 800
Damage 2 Trains

Coordinates: 54°56′38″N 57°5′10″E / 54.94389°N 57.08611°E / 54.94389; 57.08611

The Ufa train disaster was a railway accident that occurred on 4 June, 1989, in Iglinsky District, Bashkir ASSR, Soviet Union, when an explosion killed 575 people and injured 800 more.[1][2]. It is both one of the deadliest railway accidents in Russian and Soviet history by confirmed deaths next to 1936's Kursha-2 and 1944's Vereshchyovka disasters and the deadliest rail disaster in peacetime Soviet Union/Russia.

At 1:15 local time, two passenger trains of the Kuybyshev Railway carrying vacationers to and from Novosibirsk and a resort in Adler on the Black Sea exploded, 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) from the city of Asha, Chelyabinsk Oblast.[3] A faulty gas pipeline 900 metres (3,000 feet) away had unknowingly leaked natural gas liquids (mainly propane and butane), and special weather conditions allowed the gas to accumulate across the lowlands, creating a flammable cloud along part of the Kuybyshev Railway. The explosion occurred after wheel sparks from the two passenger trains heading in opposite directions ignited the flammable cloud. Estimates of the size of the explosion have ranged from 250–300 tons of TNT equivalent to up to 10,000 tons of TNT equivalent.[4][1] Of the victims, 181 of them were children, and many survivors having received severe burns and brain injuries.

On the afternoon of June 4, Mikhail Gorbachev, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, and members of the government commission to investigate the accident visited the site. The Chairman of the Commission for Investigation of the accident was Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, Gennady Vedernikov. The trial over the accident continued for six years where nine officials were charged, mostly members of Nefteprovodmontazh (the trust that constructed the faulty pipeline) including the chief of the construction and installation department of Nefteprovodmontazh, foremen, and other specific members. The charges were brought under Article 215, part II of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR, where the maximum penalty is five years imprisonment.

The accident was named after Ufa, the largest city in the Bashkir ASSR, although it occurred about 50 kilometres (31 miles) east of the city.

Causes[edit]

According to Dmitry Chernov and Didier Sornette, a number of factors contributed to the disaster.[5]

  • Rush work culture,
  • Canceling the addition of telemetry,
  • Taking authority to stop trains away from dispatchers,
  • Changing the type and the amount of the product sent through the pipe,
  • Changing the allowed pipe pressure,
  • Cutting corners,
  • No proper processes in place for safe working.

Authorities concealed the risks after the accident.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Russia remembers 1989 Ufa train disaster". RIA Novosti. 2009-06-04.  (in English)
  2. ^ Toll up to 645 in Soviet train blast, Chicago Sun-Times (July 26, 1989)(in English)
  3. ^ Bill Keller (June 5, 1989). "500 on 2 Trains Reported Killed By Soviet Gas Pipeline Explosion". New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2011.  (in English)
  4. ^ "Железнодорожные катастрофы на территории России" [Train Crash in Russia]. Vesti. November 11, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2011.  (in Russian)
  5. ^ Chernov, Dmitry; Sornette, Didier (2016). "Ufa Train Disaster (USSR, 1989)" (PDF). Man-made Catastrophes and Risk Information Concealment: Case Studies of Major Disasters and Human Fallibility. Springer. 

External links[edit]