Titan II Silo Accident in Damascus Arkansas
On September 19, 1980 during routine maintenance in a Titan II silo, an Air Force repairman dropped a heavy wrench socket, which rolled off a work platform and fell toward the bottom of the silo. The socket bounced and struck the missile, causing a leak from a pressurized fuel tank. The missile complex and the surrounding area were evacuated and a team of specialists was called in from Little Rock Air Force Base, the missile's main support base. About 8 1/2 hours after initial puncture, fuel vapors within the silo ignited and exploded. The explosion fatally injured one member of the team. Twenty-one other USAF personnel were injured. The missile's reentry vehicle, which contained a nuclear warhead, was recovered intact. There was no radioactive contamination. According to the Center for Defense Information(CDI): The explosion of volatile fuel blew off the 740 ton silo door of reinforced concrete and steel and catapulted the warhead 600 feet. It is estimated that Titan II ICBMs carry a 9 megaton warhead.
Here's the story of a man that survived another accident in 1965.
Another article about the 1980 accident is located here.
Links to other Titan II accidents can be found on the Titan II home page here.