Ufa train disaster

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 the deadliest rail disaster during peacetime in the Soviet Union/Russia.[citation needed]

Ufa train disaster
107233846 ufatrainaccident1.jpg
The destroyed passenger cars after the gas explosion near the city of Ufa
Date4 June 1989
LocationIglinsky District, Bashkir ASSR
Coordinates54°56′38″N 57°5′10″E / 54.94389°N 57.08611°E / 54.94389; 57.08611Coordinates: 54°56′38″N 57°5′10″E / 54.94389°N 57.08611°E / 54.94389; 57.08611
CountrySoviet Union
LineKuybyshev Railway
Damage2 Trains


At 1:15 am, two passenger trains of the Kuybyshev Railway carrying approximately 1,300 vacationers to and from Novosibirsk and a resort in Adler on the Black Sea exploded, 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) from the town of Asha, Chelyabinsk Oblast.[3] Without anyone knowing, a faulty gas pipeline 900 metres (3,000 feet) from the line had leaked natural gas liquids (mainly propane and butane), and 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 this flammable cloud. Estimates of the size of the explosion have ranged from 250–300 tons TNT equivalent to up to 10 kilotons TNT equivalent.[1][4] Many of the victims died later in hospital; official figures are 575 dead and over 800 injured,[5] but an unofficial estimate of the number of deaths is approximately 780.[1] 181 of the dead were children;[2] many survivors received severe burns and brain injuries.[citation needed]

On the afternoon of 4 June, 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, nine officials being charged, mostly members of Nefteprovodmontazh (the trust that constructed the faulty pipeline) including the chief of the construction and installation department of Nefteprovodmontazh and foremen. The charges were brought under Article 215, part II of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR, where the maximum penalty was five years imprisonment.[citation needed]

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. An annual commemoration is usually held at the Ulu-Telyak station [ru], near the disaster site;[5] there is a memorial at the site.[1]


According to Dmitry Chernov and Didier Sornette, the following factors contributed to the disaster:[6]

  • Hurried work culture,
  • Cancelling 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 (instead of inspecting the reasons for the fall of gas pressure),
  • Cutting corners,
  • No proper processes in place for safe working.

Another factor, aside from the gas leak's factor set, was reported to be the failure to respond to multiple reports of the presence of gas in the air prior to the explosion.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d "Russia remembers 1989 Ufa train disaster". RIA Novosti. June 4, 2009. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Toll up to 645 in Soviet train blast". Chicago Sun-Times. AFP. July 26, 1989.
  3. ^ Bill Keller (June 5, 1989). "500 on 2 Trains Reported Killed By Soviet Gas Pipeline Explosion". New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2011.
  4. ^ "Железнодорожные катастрофы на территории России" [Train Crash in Russia]. Vesti. November 11, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2011. (in Russian)
  5. ^ a b Joshua Nevett (June 5, 2019). "How the Ufa train disaster was overshadowed by Tiananmen Square". BBC News.
  6. ^ Dmitry Chernov; Didier Sornette (2016). "Ufa Train Disaster (USSR, 1989)" (PDF). Man-made Catastrophes and Risk Information Concealment: Case Studies of Major Disasters and Human Fallibility. Springer.

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