Time and History 10:22 A.M. Nuclear B-52 Crashes Over Spain

About major and minor historical events around the clock such as when a B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons crashed along the coast of Spain at 10:22 in the morning.


10:22 in the Morning

Jan. 17, 1966. A giant U.S. B-52 bomber with four hydrogen bombs aboard collided with a K-135 air tanker above the Almeria coast of eastern Spain. The tanker burst into flames and the B-52 broke up and tumbled to earth. Three of the bombs, each measuring 10 ft. in length and 20 in. in diameter, landed near the village of Palomares.

The U.S. Air Force immediately put operation "Broken Arrow" into action, and over 400 American and Spanish soldiers hunted for the bombs. Within 48 hours the three bombs had been located--one by a local farmer, who kicked the smoldering nuclear bomb. When a Spanish fisherman reported that he had seen "half a man" drop by parachute into the sea, a huge search party--20 ships, 2,200 sailors, and over 130 divers--began to comb the seabed. On Mar. 15 a three-man submarine discovered the bomb at a depth of 2,550 ft. on a narrow 20-ft. ledge. On Apr. 7 American engineers operating under extreme difficulties succeeded in hoisting the bomb to the surface. For the first time in history cameramen were allowed to photograph a nuclear bomb. A major catastrophe had been averted, but many of the villagers in Palomares began to suffer mysterious illnesses. Despite the fact that American authorities had scraped away 1,750 tons of the village's topsoil and buried it in a nuclear cemetery in South Carolina, the Spanish villagers still complain that their land has been contaminated.

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