(6 May 2004, Ukraine) Piling up live artillery is grueling work, so it
makes perfect sense that a group of soldiers would take a cigarette break
at lunchtime. The warehouse was filled with 92,000 tons of ammunition --
until the soldiers lit up their ciggies and inhaled deeply, ignoring
warnings that smoking can cause cancer. They flicked the butts away and
went back to work. The glowing embers of the tobacco butts acted like slow
fuses, which started a small fire that nobody noticed until it ignited a
chain reaction of massive explosions.
The explosions lasted for a week, tossing debris as far as 25 miles away,
destroying buildings in a two-mile radius, and forcing the evacuation of
thousands of nearby residents. Red-hot shrapnel set off additional fires
in nearby towns and ruptured a minor gas pipeline. Total damage from the
smoke break was estimated at $750 million.
Miraculously, only one of the soldiers at the arsenal died in the disaster.
Six soldiers were charged with "grossly neglecting the fire safety rules
and smoking on the ammunition site."
[Sidebar: News accounts report five people killed by explosions, but only
two as smokers. The nomination would be disqualified if innocent
bystanders were injured. But an AP article said four died from "health
problems aggravated by the stress of the disaster." Novosti said six
soldiers were charged with causing the fire, rather than two, and the only
direct death was a guard at the facility. It's not clear if the guard was
also smoking, or if the other four deaths were caused by the explosions or
simply ill health. Therefore, I am tentatively calling this a Darwin
Award, despite minor misgivings.]
"Smoking is bad for you. Secondary smoke may be worse.
"Ik zei toch dat roken dodelijk is..."
"nicht zur nachahmung empfohlen"
DarwinAwards.com © 1994 - 2012
Submitted by: Robert J Boyce
Reference: Reuters, AP, Novosti