Television and radio were silent about the explosion at one of the leading radio plants in the USSR, only short notes about the accident were published in the newspapers. Not a word about the scale of the tragedy and the loss of life. Only after the collapse of the USSR were the conclusions of the commission and the memoirs of the workers of the radio plant published.
Initially, they put forward a version that unaccounted wartime ammunition could be stored in the basements of the plant. This was indicated by the force of the explosion - the reinforced concrete hull was literally blown to shreds. However, the reason was different and it, like a time bomb, lurked and gained strength.
The history of the radio plant began in 1939. After Germany attacked Poland, Soviet troops advanced to meet them and occupied part of the territory practically without fighting. Among others, the radio factories of the Elektrit company turned out to be on this territory. It was dangerous to resume production near the border, everyone understood the inevitability of war and the equipment was sent to the city of Minsk.
Why in Minsk? Take a close look at the tube radios of that era:
Each radio is a true work of art. The complex-shaped body was covered with wood veneer with a beautiful texture, varnished in several layers and carefully polished. An indispensable condition for the location of the radio plant was the presence of a nearby furniture or woodworking plant.
Such an enterprise turned out to be in Minsk, and a new radio plant was located there. Even the design of the first products was used from the company Elektrit.
Here the electronic filling had to be thoroughly modernized: the Soviet radio tubes differed in characteristics from the products of the Dutch Philips and German "Telefunken".
During the Great Patriotic War, the plant was not evacuated and the workshops were practically destroyed by bombing.
After the war, the plant was restored and the volume of production increased every year. I came across this list of radio equipment produced at the Minsk radio plant:
You can imagine: several hundred thousand pieces of equipment were produced per month, each one needs a beautiful case. Cases for all models were made in a separate huge woodworking workshop. The size of this room is like four football fields. It employed about 700 people per shift. Despite the three-shift work, the workshop did not keep pace with the growth in production and in the early 70s another workshop was built.
It was in this workshop, on March 10, 1972, that 700 people went to work on the second shift. At 7 pm the lunch break began and most went to the dining room, which was located in the next building. At 19 hours 30 minutes an explosion thundered in the workshop. The two-story reinforced concrete building has fallen into ruins.
The rescue work lasted three days. There was not enough special equipment or trained people. According to various sources, from 106 to 140 people died from wounds and hypothermia.
The investigation revealed a whole chain of factors that led to the disaster:
1. The building of the hulls workshop was designed by the Leningrad GSPI-4, based on the standard design of the workshop for the textile production, because according to fire safety standards, this project fully satisfied the technical assignment. The ventilation system supplied dusty air to the basement, where there were filters that collect dust from the grinding of the hulls.
2. Before the explosion, the plant switched to using a new polyester varnish from Austria. Research has shown that 5 grams of sanding dust per cubic meter of air from this varnish is enough to cause an explosion. The designers included an explosive concentration of 65 grams per cubic meter of air in the calculations of the workshop design. Such were the characteristics of the old varnish.
3. The shop was built at an emergency pace and was put into operation with a whole list of unresolved remarks from the acceptance committee. In the production plan, there was no time reserve for the elimination of comments. The director could not postpone the launch of the workshop - this is a disruption of production plans and a "goodbye position".
On that ill-fated day, an accidental spark ignited the dust in the workshop. The fire through the ventilation pipes instantly went into the basement, where the dust on the filters burst into a powerful explosion. The blast wave broke the concrete slabs of the floors of both floors and people, along with the machines and fragments of the slabs, fell into the basement.
As a result of the inspection of the commission from Moscow, many officials received punishments, but will this return the dead ...