Wednesday 3rd November 1982
Hundreds were killed in the 1.6 mile long Salang Tunnel fire in Central Afghanistan, following a disaster involving a Soviet fuel convoy. According to Soviet Army records, two military convoys (2211 and 2212) collided in the Salang tunnel causing a traffic jam. There were no fires or explosions. Sixty-four Soviet soldiers and 112 Afghan people were killed by carbon monoxide emitted by idling engines. Another report from a traveller, who has been to the region, sounds very different from this official version: A fuel tanker in a military convoy exploded inside (the cause of the explosion remains somewhat in doubt with the Russians still claiming it was an accident and the Mujahideen still claiming it was a successful attack) the Salang Tunnel, unleashing an explosive chain reaction. Drivers of cars, trucks and buses evidently continued to enter the tunnel after the explosion. Soviet troops, fearing that the explosion might have been a rebel attack, closed off both ends with tanks, trapping many inside. Some burned to death; others were killed by smoke and by carbon monoxide escaping from vehicles whose drivers kept their engines idling to stay warm in the freezing cold. As many as 700 Soviet troops and 2,000 Afghan soldiers and civilians may have died.