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Dyatlov pass incident
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Philo_TOffline
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PostPosted: 23-02-2008 03:46    Post subject: Dyatlov pass incident Reply with quote

Russia, 1959, a group of skiers embark on a cross-country ski trip. On the night of February 2, 1959, some sort of accident happens, leaving them dead. Evidence points to them ripping open the tent in their hurry to flee, mostly in their nightclothes and shoeless. Several of them had injuries that the medical examiner characterized as having been caused by a force equal to a car crash.

I've never heard of this before, but wikipedia has an article.

This is a very mysterious story, with each turn bringing a new strange facet. Consensus on Metafilter points to an avalanche. (Triggered by a hushed-up nuclear test?)


Has anyone heard of this before?
Is this some bit of Sovietana that didn't filter past the iron curtain?
Is this a Russian Blair Witch project?
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escargot1Offline
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PostPosted: 23-02-2008 06:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's very interesting. Having been raised in the Cold War, I personally have little faith that Soviet era secrets will ever be revealed.

In this instance, there seems to be a tantalising promise of more helpful documents tucked away somewhere. Smile
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rynner
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PostPosted: 23-02-2008 08:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for digging this up.

Secret weapons testing doesn't seem likely (unless a missile went wildly off-course) because surely the expedition would never have been allowed anywhere near the area.

But the grim local legends remind me somewhat of the Skinwalker tales from the US.
http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6888

Avalanche? Maybe the party felt or heard one nearby and panicked out of their tent, but the search party reported no avalanche at the camp site. And avalanches aren't generally radioactive!

I guess it needs a Russian speaker to examine the records more thoroughly - even the Wiki article is not written by someone with English as his first language.
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tony_carson
PostPosted: 23-02-2008 13:32    Post subject: Re: Dyatlov pass accident Reply with quote

Philo_T wrote:

This is a very mysterious story, with each turn bringing a new strange facet. Consensus on Metafilter points to an avalanche.


Yes but what about the missing tongue? That's just odd.
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Black River FallsOffline
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PostPosted: 23-02-2008 16:07    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice find Philo-T. I'd never heard of this one before.

Quote:
Yes but what about the missing tongue? That's just odd.


difficult to say without knowing more of the context, but i'd be surprised if the bodies had laid in the forest that long without there being some signs of scavaging by animals.
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TheOrigDesperadoOffline
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PostPosted: 23-02-2008 19:15    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there evidence that this actually happened? All I can find on the web are discussions about it. I can't find any reliable reports or articles.
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Philo_TOffline
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PostPosted: 24-02-2008 04:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheOrigDesperado wrote:
Is there evidence that this actually happened? All I can find on the web are discussions about it. I can't find any reliable reports or articles.



That's what I find strange about this. Having an interest in Weird Stuff , I find it strange to not heard of this fifty-year-old incident. The story rates high on the weird-o-meter, but is it merely a story?
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rynner
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PostPosted: 24-02-2008 07:36    Post subject: Reply with quote

Philo_T wrote:
Having an interest in Weird Stuff , I find it strange to not heard of this fifty-year-old incident. The story rates high on the weird-o-meter, but is it merely a story?

Something that happened in the Cold War years, in the USSR, and seems to have been covered up in Russia at the time by a government paranoid about security and secrecy, is not likely to leak out easily into the West.

And even if the West had suspicions that there might be military intelligence to be gained from the incident, it would have been difficult to infiltrate agents into such a remote area. Spy satellites were still a thing of the future, and even spy planes (the U2s) were in their infancy.

As I said earlier, with most of the available documentation being in Russian, it's still difficult for Westerners to access it, and it's only the development of the WWW that has given it a popular outlet now.

And there's always the possiblity that there are simple and natural explanations for the events, but that the tale has expanded and grown more convoluted in the retelling, which is something Forteans should be well aware of!
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markbellisOffline
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PostPosted: 24-02-2008 17:03    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like it's taken from the pages of Pravda....
The bodies were found "shoeless and dressed in their underclothes only" like someone who'd been roused from slumbering in a cosy bed although they are camping in tents in winter in the northern Ural mountains....
and "strange orange tan. They also claimed that the dead were completely grey-haired" - You don't tan after death, and people only became grey haired overnight after being frightened in bad movies.....
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rynner
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PostPosted: 24-02-2008 17:23    Post subject: Reply with quote

markbellis wrote:
You don't tan after death..

Who said you do?

The implication (whether real or hoaxed) is that they were exposed to radiation, presumably before they died.
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SpookdaddyOffline
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PostPosted: 24-02-2008 17:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

markbellis wrote:
...The bodies were found "shoeless and dressed in their underclothes only" like someone who'd been roused from slumbering in a cosy bed although they are camping in tents in winter in the northern Ural mountains...


The removal of clothing is a not uncommon occurence in victims of hypothermia. When I used to go up and down steep things for fun I heard this kind of bizarre and apparently paradoxical behaviour referred to as 'cold stupid' or 'frozen stupid'.

That said, it's a great story - but it does have the feel of a film pitch about it.
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rynner
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PostPosted: 24-02-2008 17:58    Post subject: Reply with quote

There were several nuclear incidents in the USSR prior to Chernobyl.
Quote:
During the early days of the atomic energy program in the former Soviet Union, some unfortunate events occurred. The country's first atomic test in Semipalatinsk in 1949 exposed over 25,000 people downwind from the blast to significant doses of fission products, especially 131I. During the late 1940s and the early 1950s nuclear material production facilities were developed near Chelyabinsk in the South Ural Mountains, which resulted in major releases into the environment and significant overexposures for thousands of workers and nearby populations.

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1469939

Quote:
1957 29 September

Mayak or Kyshtym nuclear complex (Soviet Union): A fault in the cooling system at the nuclear complex, near Chelyabinsk, results in a chemical explosion and the release of an estimated 70 to 80 tonnes of radioactive materials into the air. Thousands of people are exposed to radiation and thousands more are evacuated from their homes. It is categorised as Level 6 on the seven-point International Nuclear Events Scale (INES).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5165736.stm
More detail here:
http://www.mnweekly.ru/national/20071018/55283501.html

(I seem to remember one case where Western scientists only became aware of an accident years later, by 'reading between the lines' of published Russian research, which often dealt with things like the effects of radiation on wildlife, etc.)

So it's by no means out of the question that the expedition got caught up in something similar.
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H_JamesOffline
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PostPosted: 24-02-2008 21:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find this part of the article most interesting:

Quote:
Some try to explain the disaster via the local myths and legends of Mansi, the indigenous people of that area. Indeed, the surrounding is full of strange stories and even the local toponymics seems mystical. Otorten, the goal of expedition, translates from the Mansi language to "Do Not Go There". Kholat Syakhl, the place of disaster, translates in the same language to "The Mountain of Dead". There is an old Mansi-legend, that Kholat Syakhl had been named so after nine Mansi men dead on top of the mountain seeking salvation from the Flood in ancient times. This territory is acknowledged by local Mansi as "damned". They avoid visiting it when they go hunting or when they travel follow their deer herds. Though, it is known that there are not any explicit taboo visiting this place (against the version that the travelers were punished by local people for pervasion into a sacral zone).


What if the place itself is cursed (for want of a better word)?
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rynner
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PostPosted: 24-02-2008 21:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

H_James wrote:
What if the place itself is cursed (for want of a better word)?

rynner wrote:
But the grim local legends remind me somewhat of the Skinwalker tales from the US.
http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6888
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Philo_TOffline
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PostPosted: 25-02-2008 03:54    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recall recent (last 5 years...) stories of radiation exposure incidents when some poor sot scavenges an abandoned Soviet installation. Seems the Soviets played around with RTGs to power things like isolated lighthouses and such.

Quote:
Agapov confirmed earlier reports of radiation exposure incidents in the former USSR republic of Georgia, where "shepherds would warm themselves up in cold weather with the help of RTGs," which are, in essence, nuclear-powered heat generators.
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