Achinsk Explosion

The video is impressive.

Twelve people were hospitalized. Sections of Achinsk were evacuated.

Explosions of ammunition warehouses are not uncommon in Russia. This one is reported to have started with a fire.

Achinsk is southwest of the city of Krasnoyarsk. The nuclear plant at Zheleznogorsk is northeast, some distance away.

The shockwave shows up because the humidity of the air was just right for condensation in the expansion part of the wave. Any large explosion produces a mushroom cloud. It’s not nuclear, but I suppose there will be some conspiracy theorists who will latch onto this.


New York Times (Whose online frontpage was not as bad as what they proposed last night)

The Times article was from AP, as was the Washington Post article.

The Guardian



17 replies
  1. 1
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    I saw reports that mistranslated the name of the firefighting robots, so that’s going to be one source of nuclear claims.

    I also saw reports of black rain. Again, any large enough explosion, etc.

  2. 2
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Impressive indeed.

    ETA just watched it again, interesting that the shock wave appears to be moving faster than the speed of sound.

  3. 3
    MattF says:

    Derek Lowe’s ‘In the Pipeline’ blog has a ‘Things I won’t work with’ tag that collects tales about materials in chemistry labs that go ‘boom’.

    ETA: I should say, ‘BOOM’.

  4. 4
    MattF says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Right. Consider that the shockwave from a supersonic vehicle travels with the vehicle. What matters is the force pushing the wave.

  5. 5
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MattF: I am just a little surprised that it is able to maintain that speed over that distance. Pretty damned awesome in the vein of the laws of nature are awesome.

  6. 6
    catclub says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I wonder if the speed of sound is faster in the cloud than in clear air. It looks like it is running fast in the cloud.

  7. 7
    BroD says:

    I’m supposed to believe that no one was killed?

  8. 8
    daveNYC says:

    I imagine they’re still trying to figure out how many were killed. An explosion that big isn’t necessarily going to leave a lot of bodies around for easy counting.

    The more ludicrously unstable compounds from “Things I Won’t Work With” are fun reading.

  9. 9
    Jager says:

    Russian maintenance leaves a lot to be desired, see submarines, aircraft carriers, wonder how well they maintain their nukes and missiles.

  10. 10

    @daveNYC: There probably weren’t a lot of people at the facility. It’s storage, after all.

  11. 11
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    I generally loathe repostings from old threads – it so often seems a shameless pandering for attention – but in this case I’ll make an exception for myself inasmuch as I jumped in right after I saw the the notice in a thread already on its last gasps. So from several threads below, just for (somewhat questionable) fun:

    Had a friend in Achinsk
    Whose legs landed in Minsk
    While most of nose with seven toes
    Came down in Chelyabinsk….

    (Pace Tom Lehrer of course…)

    To conclude:

    And who’s the saber-rattling Tsar
    Whose bases go up in flames?
    Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is his name! Oy!

  12. 12
    WhatsMyNym says:

    @BroD: The Guardian is reporting: One soldier was killed and at least seven other people have been injured, including several with shrapnel wounds, according to Russian state media reports.

    As Cheryl says, they don’t usually have many working at ammo depots. The one next to me doesn’t (thankfully, they also use underground bunkers).

  13. 13
    Fair Economist says:

    @Uncle Cosmo: Ha, that is fun!

  14. 14
    Martin says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: By definition a shock wave moves faster than the speed of sound. The speed of sound is based on the speed at which air molecules can freely move. The reason it’s a shock wave is that it’s moving faster than that and pushing against air that can’t get out of the way, causing it to sort of ‘pile up’ on the leading face, which is why it can cause damage – because it takes a highly fluidic medium and turn it into something resembling more like a solid. Same effect as supersonic flight – you don’t get mach waves until the plane exceeds the speed of sound.

    If you’ve ever played with a non-newtonian fluid – corn starch and water where you can push you hand into it slowly but if you hit it quickly it feels solid, similar concept.

  15. 15
    J R in WV says:

    Interesting video.

    Regarding injuries, does anyone think the average Joe or Boris in such a facility will hang around after a fire starts?

    Run away, run away works here for everyone. Wait for it to burn itself out at a safe distance.

    ETA: “Things I Won’t Work With” is pretty funny, and revealing of the OCD of some chemists. Too dangerous for me!

    Simulations never killed anyone!

  16. 16
    Jay Noble says:

    I was very annoyed by the coverage of this in that it took several minutes to get a handle on WHERE in Russia this happened. Siberia isn’t exactly Vermont you know.

  17. 17
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Martin: Not quite — a pressure wave (aka shock wave) always travels at the “speed of sound” because, well, sound is what we call a pressure wave. It’s somewhat of a circular definition.

    The speed of sound varies with the temperature of the air — that’s why hot gases in a gun barrel can propel a bullet or shell at speeds higher than the regular atmospheric SoS of about 330 m/s. An explosion usually involves heat (the large ball of flame seen in the video above) so it can expand faster than 330 m/s for a moment until the gases cool and the SoS drops to about 330 m/s.

    Note that nuclear explosions are different — the heat, particles and X-ray radiation from the explosion travel at the speed of light.

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