64 missing, 12 dead in Russian hydroelectric accident

On Monday a burst water conduit that leads to the turbines at the Russian Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric plant in Siberia has left 12 confirmed dead with an additional 64 people still missing. Vitaly Zubakin, an executive for RusHydro the owner of the plant, said that while finding survivors in the flood zone is unlikely the search continues.

In addition to the dead and missing the accident has caused an ecological disaster as well by creating a vast oil slick on the Yenisei River. According to officials restoring the plant could take years.

“There was a large explosion, and the power went out,” said Irina Perepelitsina, a worker at the plant interviewed by NTV television. “The alarm went off, and we all ran to the exits.”

Sergei Shoigu, the emergency situations minister, suggested that a hydraulic pressure surge could have caused water to burst through the walls and ceiling in the engine room of Turbine No. 2, causing it to rapidly fill with water, a statement on the ministry’s Web site said. Investigators from the Prosecutor General’s Office earlier said the accident could have occurred when a transformer exploded during repairs.

Source: New York Times :: Dozens Presumed Drowned at Siberian Plant

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image courtesy of Ilya Naymushin/Reuters