On this day January 17, 1966

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress collided with a KC-135 Stratotanker during aerial refueling over the Mediterranean Sea, dropping three hydrogen bombs near Palomares in the municipality of Cuevas del Almanzora, Andalucía, Spain.

The B28RI nuclear bomb on the deck of the USS Petrel

The bomb on the deck of the USS Petrel

The KC-135 was completely destroyed when its fuel load ignited, killing all four crew members.

The B-52G broke apart, killing three of the seven crew members aboard.

Of the four Mk28 type hydrogen bombs the B-52G carried, three were found on land near the small fishing village of Palomares in the municipality of Cuevas del Almanzora, Andalucía,Spain.

The non nuclear explosives in two of the weapons detonated upon impacting the ground, resulting in the contamination of a 2-square-kilometer (490-acre) area by radioactive plutonium. The fourth, which fell into the Mediterranean Sea, was recovered intact after a 2½ month-long search.

List of military nuclear accidents

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