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Two Trains Passing in the Mountains Experience a Natural Gas Explosion

On June 3, 1989 in Russia’s Ural Mountains near the town of Ufa, a natural gas pipeline experienced a significant drop in pressure indicating a possible gas leak.

In an effort to keep the pressure up, pipeline workers increased the flow of natural gas to the pipeline allowing the natural gas to leak and spread into the surrounding area. The natural gas settled in a low area close to nearby a Trans-Siberian Railway.

As the natural gas began to settle in the low area, two trains approached each other from opposing directions on the rail tracks passing each other near the settled natural gas. As the two trains passed, the settled natural gas ignited causing a massive explosion including a fireball and flames that spread one mile from the source. The force of the explosion incinerated hundreds of trees instantly and knocked several train cars off the tracks.

Due to the severity of the incident, it is not possible to determine the exact amount of lives lost. However, the best estimates were just over 500 lives lost and numerous individuals suffered severe burns requiring helicopter transport to local hospitals for treatment.