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Report blames rain, disrepair for Baikonur roof collapse
Posted: Sat, May 18, 2002, 10:31 AM ET (1431 GMT)
A preliminary report by a Russian government commission blames heavy rains and poor upkeep for the collapse of the roof a hangar at the Baikonur Cosmodrome May 12, killing at least seven people. According to the report, obtained by Space News, investigators believe that a half-meter layer of kerazmit, a gravel-like building material on the roof of building 112, absorbed three days' worth of heavy rains immediately before the collapse. Kerazmit is designed to repel water, but may have lost that ability because of age. The collapse itself was triggered when construction workers put 18 tons of "rubberoid" on one area of the roof in preparation for repairs. Rescuers have recovered the bodies of seven workers killed in the collapse; the body of an eighth worker supposedly on the roof has not been found, leading to speculation that he was not with the group at the time of the collapse. The roof collapse severely damaged an Energia rocket and Buran shuttle — apparently the only model that actually flew in orbit — stored in the hangar; both will be scrapped, according to the report. The final version of the commission's report is expected out next week.
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