The plane crash at the kindergarten: a tragedy that was silent for 30 years

The plane crash at the kindergarten: a tragedy that was silent for 30 years

Categories: Catastrophes | Children | History

This plane crash, which occurred in May 1972, was silent for three decades. Then, in broad daylight, a military plane crashed into a departmental kindergarten in the resort of Svetlogorsk. The tragedy, which was immediately classified, claimed the lives of 35 people overnight. And the place where the ill-fated kindergarten stood was razed to the ground overnight and a flower bed was broken there.

The plane crash at the kindergarten: a tragedy that was silent for 30 years

May 16, 1972 seemed like an ordinary day in the sleepy resort of Svetlogorsk, except that on that day it was foggier than usual over the Baltic coast. The pupils of the departmental kindergarten of the sanatorium "Svetlogorsk" returned from a morning walk and were preparing for lunch.

The plane crash at the kindergarten: a tragedy that was silent for 30 years

The kindergarten building was a cozy two-story mansion, in which there were only 25 children. Many residents of the city in those years wanted to arrange their child here, but it was not easy: this children's institution was considered a "thug". The official position of the parents fully justified the status of the kindergarten: the police chief, the head of the traffic police, the first secretary of the Komsomol City Committee, an employee of the Svetlogorsk court, the chief physician…

The plane crash at the kindergarten: a tragedy that was silent for 30 years

Around noon, An AN-24T military transport aircraft took off from Kaliningrad Khrabrovo Airport to check and adjust the radio equipment. In those years, cases of illegal entry into the territory of private planes from capstans became more frequent. There were such incidents in Kaliningrad region, therefore, the local command decided to check the coastal tracking system.

The plane crash at the kindergarten: a tragedy that was silent for 30 years

At about 12:30 AN-24T got into a thick fog over Svetlogorsk. He was walking at an unacceptably low altitude, and on a steep bank in the resort area, his wing caught the top of one of the pines and shattered. After the impact, the massive plane weighing 21 tons flew about 200 meters and crashed into the building of the Svetlogorsk kindergarten, completely destroying the second floor.

The first victims in the tragedy were two high school students Tanya Yezhova and Natasha Tsygankova, who were walking near the kindergarten: even before the collision with the building, the plane sprayed them with aviation fuel vapors. The girls instantly caught fire, but still they managed to survive.

Fuel poured out of the collapsed car, kerosene caught fire, the kindergarten was engulfed in flames, and the aluminum skin of the aircraft was burning like paper. Of those who were in the building, only two people survived. The disaster claimed 35 lives: 6 crew members of the aircraft, 2 passengers, 24 children and 3 kindergarten staff were killed.

The plane crash at the kindergarten: a tragedy that was silent for 30 years

A state of emergency was imposed for 24 hours in the resort of Svetlogorsk. Residents were forbidden to leave their homes, electricity and phones were turned off. When the work on clearing the rubble and searching for the bodies of the dead was completed in a few hours, the place where the kindergarten used to stand was razed to the ground, and a small square was built instead.

The dead children and educators were buried in a mass grave at the cemetery, near the Svetlogorsk-1 railway station. To reduce the publicity to zero, on the day of the funeral, trains were canceled and traffic was restricted on the roads connecting Kaliningrad with Svetlogorsk. But despite this, about 10 thousand people gathered at the cemetery that day.

At the funeral, KGB officers forbade taking photographs and illuminated the films of those who did it. But it was still possible to take several pictures of the relatives of the victims.

The plane crash at the kindergarten: a tragedy that was silent for 30 years

A criminal case on the fact of the disaster was not initiated. The case was investigated under the heading "top secret", and its materials were never published. There were a lot of rumors about the reasons for what happened: the residents of Svetlogorsk blamed the pilots for everything, claimed that the examination found alcohol in their blood and even that the pilots noticed nudists on the beach and descended to better examine them.

The most plausible assumption seems to be that the crash was due to an altimeter malfunction. On the eve of the flight, an altimeter with an IL-14 was installed on the AN-24, but no one tested how the device would work on another aircraft. Only after the disaster, tests were carried out, which showed that the altimeter gave an error of up to 60-70 meters.

The plane crash at the kindergarten: a tragedy that was silent for 30 years

Now there is a chapel erected in 1994 on the site of the wreck with a sign: "Memorial Church in honor of the Icon of the Mother of God"Joy to all the mourners"was built on the site of the tragic death of the kindergarten on May 16, 1972."

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