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A small short circuit caused a tragedy: An underground inferno in Baku!

A small short circuit caused a tragedy: An underground inferno in Baku!
photo: small short circuit caused a tragedy: An underground inferno in Baku!
17 / 08 / 2022

Today we're going to look into the world below the surface! How can one small short circuit turn the pride of Azerbaijan's capital city into the most tragic accident in the history of the underground railroad to date, killing 289 passengers and injuring 265?

Built in 1967, the underground railway is one of the prides of the capital city of Azerbaijan, Baku. On the day of its inauguration, passengers could not have guessed that one day the symbol of the revolution in mass transport would turn into the site of the most fatal accident in the history of underground travel. On Saturday, 28 October 1995, during the evening rush hour, a fully occupied train left Ulduz station. It never saw another station again.

Shortly after leaving the station, passengers noticed smoke billowing from carriage number four. The cause was a short circuit in the carriage's wiring. Later, flames began to shoot out, glass cracked, the lighting went out and the carriage was engulfed in fire, especially its plastic parts, which led to the release of poisonous gases that later filled the entire tunnel apart from the train in question. In the actual outbreak, carriage number four, it was not possible to open the door and the only escape route was through the other carriages. Passengers scrambled out, panic broke out and many died not from poison gas poisoning but simple trampling. Nor was escape a victory. In the dark and cramped space, some touched the power rail, others did not escape poisoning despite escaping the carriage. A ventilation system was set to vent the poisonous smoke in the same direction the passengers wanted to escape.

Unanswered questions about the cause of the accident still circulate through a series of speculations. An investigation at the time concluded a technical fault in the wiring, which did not explain the scale of the incident. Gaps in the conclusion thus gave room for conspiracies about sabotage or deliberate attack, but this was never proven. The only convicted persons were the engineer and the station supervisor.