CZ/SK verze

Trans-Siberian Railway accident: More than 600 dead. How did this happen?

Trans-Siberian Railway accident: More than 600 dead. How did this happen?
photo: Railway
30 / 12 / 2021

We usually know the Trans-Siberian Railway from the lists of the most beautiful railway lines. Few would have thought that he could be involved in the story of the most tragic railway event that has ever taken place in the history of Russia and the USSR.

The date was June 4, 1989, when in the early morning hours, two unrelated events caused a train disaster, during which an invisible gas lake scattered two sets of passing trains and ended the lives of 575 people. In the first event, there was a train seven minutes late. On the second occasion, the disaster got worse by complete neglect of several reports of the gas leakage gathered just a kilometer away from the railway line near the city of Aš. A crack measuring 1.7 meters was created on the former oil pipeline and later gas pipeline. To this day, a question mark hangs over the explanation of how and when the almost two-meter-long crack formed. On a fateful day, a deadly mixture of propane/butane leaked through it, which under specific meteorological conditions gave rise to an invisible gas lake.

After the technicians registered a sudden drop in pressure in the pipeline, they decided to increase the volume of gas instead of indicating the cause and sending an intervention team. The gas could get smelled miles away, but no one took the residential complaints into account. The aftermath of the breakdown culminated at 1:15 a.m. when two passing vehicles collided, followed by a giant explosion. The sets consisted of 38 wagons with a total of 1284 passengers. The cause of the explosion remains a mystery.  Speculation has been spreading about a tossed cigarette and, for example, sparks caused by the braking system.

 A driver of an approaching freight train was the first to report the unfortunate disaster on the rail tracks.

The driver stopped right before the deadly section. The disaster listed 575 victims, 181 of them children. The high number of child victims gets based on children heading to children's camps that joined at the last minute. At night, only two ambulances were available to the rescue services, and the injured, of whom there were about 673, had to be taken away by a freight train locomotive. A total of eleven cars got derailed, seven of which were completely destroyed by the explosion.

During the trial, nine people got pressed with charges. The defendants were mainly technicians taking care of the pipeline. The highest sentence, which lasted five years behind bars, was served by only seven junior workers.