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In Russia, a Freak Urban Geyser Smashes Cars With Flying Asphalt

A parking lot in Smolensk was flooded within minutes on Thursday by a violent pipe rupture.

Attention to the person who parked a red Škoda outside: Please move your vehicle, it is being pummeled by asphalt chunks caused by a hot geyser erupting in our parking lot.

This unnatural disaster actually happened on Thursday in Smolensk, a city of about 327,000 souls a couple hundred miles west of Moscow. People were going about their business next to a collective-farm area when a fissure in the pavement began spitting steam. Seconds later the little perforation split open to unleash a mephitic torrent of boiling water that soared above the rooftops of nearby three-story buildings.

At first explosion, the urban geyser pushed a load of broken asphalt into the air. The stone rain came down battering cars, breaking the back windshields of at least two. A Ukranian news site reported that 15 vehicles were damaged, some by falling rocks and others by engine flooding. There were no reports that I can find of injuries.

The eruption, which was reportedly caused by a rupture in an underground pipe, was powerful enough that within minutes the entire lot was mired in water. Workers got the gusher under control in a short enough time, though, leaving a steaming hole in the parking lot that looks perfect for an invigorating mineral bath.

Head on to this site for close-up photos of the geyser spewing all over the place. YouTube plebes seem entranced by the below video carnage, to judge by Google-translated comments like "SMOLENSK – a city in which love to build fountains,"  "swimming pool party!" and "I always knew that Satan lives under Kolkhoznaya area":


About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.