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Spring heating tests cause spate of accidents across region

By Anna Liesowska
21 May 2015

Woman pushing baby in pram has narrow escape as ground disappears below her.

A spate of accidents have taken place across Siberia as a result of the testing of heating systems following the long winter. Picture: TVK6

A spate of accidents have taken place across Siberia as a result of the testing of heating systems following the long winter.

In one lucky escape a woman pushing her baby in a pram along the pavement in Krasnoyarsk fell down a hole that had suddenly formed in the ground.

Eyewitnesses said she fell into a puddle of warm water and suffered only minor injuries and, fortunately, the pram did not follow after her.

It is thought a burst pipe caused the soil to be washed away, forming the crater in the street in the incident on Tuesday.

Woman fell into the hole


Woman fell into the hole


Woman fell into the hole


Woman fell into the hole

Eyewitnesses said she fell into a puddle of warm water and suffered only minor injuries and, fortunately, the pram did not follow after her. Pictures: TVK6

Officials confirmed the hole was as a result of tests on the heating systems in the city and Krasnoyarsk mayor Edkham Akbulatov has ordered an examination around the nearby area.

The accident came a year after another heating-related incident in the city, in which a minibus carrying passengers drove into a geyser of boiling water that had shot up from the ground during the testing period.

These checks on heating systems are common practice in Siberia, and indeed all across Russia, in late spring and early summer.

Russian towns and cities use a network of underground hot water pipes from thermoelectric plants that heat buildings. Each year the system is tested to find the weakest links, with water pumped through it at high pressure.

The effect is pipes bursting, causing holes in the ground or temporary fountains of water, at weak points. Before testing is carried out local officials warn people to be careful and not to stay close to hatches.

Fountain in Omsk


Fountain in Omsk


Fountain in Omsk


Fountain in Novosibirsk

The water was not hot, so local residents could get close to watch it erupting, with some filming the incident and putting the footage on YouTube. Pictures: innoway.org, Anna Sergeeva

Thankfully accidents this year have been rare and have resulted in few injuries at all.

On May 13 in Novosibirsk, the KillFish bar was flooded by water at 11.30pm, forcing customers to evacuate. Staff later found out the heating was being tested next to the premises.

Bar director Svetlana Shilova said: 'The flooding came from the side where our facility doesn’t have any pipes. Roughly speaking, the water came from the street and began to flood us rather quickly.'

Two days later, in another district of Novosibirsk, a fountain of water two-metres high burst out of the ground, while on Wednesday a geyser the height of a nine-storey house appeared in Omsk.

The water was not hot, so local residents could get close to watch it erupting, with some filming the incident and putting the footage on YouTube.

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