In 1969 terrible storm killed 80 people

In 1969 terrible storm killed 80 people

June 25, 2021

After the tragic incident, the director of the combine Vladimir Dolgih ordered not to take the days that the navigators spent on the lakes, waiting out the storm, as truancy.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Navigation for boats on the Norilsk reservoirs traditionally opens on July 1. Taimyr has a very developed network of lakes and rivers. From Norilskaya river you can even walk to the Kara sea if you walk along the Pyasina river.

Fish in the Taimyr reservoirs was always caught by whole artels. Therefore, there were boats: first, wooden ones, later – duralumin under motors. There was no special control: there was no one to keep order, and it was hardly feasible to cover such a territory.

At the end of the 1960s, the State Inspectorate for Small Vessels – an analogue of the traffic police on the water – did not exist and dozens of people per season drowned.

The old boats went in all directions: powerful motors appeared, but the boats did not match them, eyewitnesses recalled. In addition, there was no warning service: you could go far from the town in calm weather, and come back – in a wild storm. There was no way to get life jackets, they were made by hand: the pillowcase was stuffed with styrofoam and tied with ropes.
In August 1969, due to a terrible storm on lake Melkoye, over 80 people drowned in one weekend, who stubbornly went to the town because the next day they had to return to work. After that tragic incident, the director of the combine Vladimir Dolgih ordered not to take the days that the navigators spent on the lakes, waiting out the storm, as truancy.

In June 1972, a navigation and technical inspection site was organized in Norilsk, and in 1974, the number of victims on the water bodies decreased sharply.

Vladimir Ponomarenko headed the section. Admiral Ponomarenko, to whom a monument was erected opposite the entrance to lake Melkoye, is still remembered by experienced Norilsk navigators. It was he who once brought order to the Norilsk rivers and lakes.

He came to Norilsk with his family in 1961 from the Far East, worked as a photojournalist at Zapolyarnaya Pravda newspaper and then moved to the copper plant. In 1970, he went with a friend in a small motor boat along the route Dudinka – Vladivostok. This experience made him an inspector of the State Inspection Service. In addition, he received the nickname Admiral for the constant wearing of a dandy naval cap and for the vigil on the Norilo-Pyasinskaya water system.

For 25 years, he held this post, created a base on the Middle Island, which was formerly called Drunk island by the anglers, and changed the attitude of boatmasters to drunk driving. They say, the Admiral even beat someones with a rubber hose, driving into the mind.

For other issues of our photo project about the history of the city and the combine, go to the History spot section.

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Text: Svetlana Samohina, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive

June 25, 2021

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