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Nuclear bomb nearly detonated after falling on North Carolina, declassified report says via The Sydney Morning Herald

There are few things in this world that can change the course of history faster than a nuclear bomb exploding. The devastation is immediate and lasts for years.

That makes the latest details to emerge about a January 24, 1961, incident involving two nuclear bombs all the more jarring.

A B-52 bomber broke up in the sky over North Carolina, and one of the two bombs on board was in the “armed” setting by the time it hit the ground near Goldsboro, North Carolina, according to a newly declassified report published on Monday by the National Security Archive.

[...]

During the cold war, nuclear bombs fell out of the sky, burned up in plane ­crashes and were lost at sea. In the incident Schlosser describes in greatest detail, “the Damascus accident” of September 18, 1980, the warhead from a Titan II missile was ejected after a series of mishaps that began when a repairman dropped a socket wrench and pierced a fuel tank.

Tactical nuclear weapons scattered across Europe had minimal security; misplaced tools and failed repairs triggered serious accidents; inadequate safety procedures and poor oversight led to dozens of close brushes with nuclear explosions.

People have died in these accidents, sometimes as a result of their own carelessness or bad luck, but often while doing their best to protect the rest of us from an accidental nuclear blast.

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