(2 February 2008, Bulgaria) It was a cold but sunny February afternoon.
Lidia, a biology teacher from Sofia, was driving two friends home from a
memorial service. Suddenly the vehicle stopped. Bystanders saw all three
occupants dash from the car to a nearby manhole and start pouring down
liquids and powders from various bottles and jars.
Apparently the biology teacher had been performing chemistry experiments
in her free time, and had some leftover noxious chemicals. It is still not
entirely clear what the chemicals were, but two of the bottles were
labeled diethyl ether and methanol, both highly flammable liquids. The
former is also used as a sedative, so one explanation for their actions is
that they felt dizzy from the ether vapors and thought it was a good idea
to pour them in the sewer.
As it turns out, a good idea it definitely was not. The cocktail of
flammable substances in the enclosed space of the sewer caused an explosion
so powerful that it launched the manhole cover into the air, decapitating
the (briefly) surprised Lidia. Left without a head on her shoulders, she
decided it was time to kick the bucket.
The other two people were not unharmed, but were alive. They were
taken to the hospital with burns on their faces. They may not regain their
eyesight, but hopefully will be able to speak clearly enough to tell their
children that tossing random chemicals down the drain is not as wise as it
might at first appear.
"Better living through chemistry...NOT!"
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Guest Writer: Georgi Stoychev.