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At 6:00 PM on 6th July 1988 maintenance workers on the oil platform Piper Alpha sought permission to stop work on backup propane condensate pump, leaving a hole in the pump where a valve had been. Just before 10:00PM the primary propane condensate pump failed. The first explosion was caused by gas escaping from the hole in the pump where the valve should have been, and was followed twenty minutes later by a larger explosion. The failure of the firewalls separating different parts of the facility, a secondary failure since they were never designed to cope with an explosion, ignited the oil stores. 167 personnel died, 165 out of the 226 onboard the platform, plus 2 from a rescue vessel. Read more