Abdelkrim touhami was still a teenager when, on May 1st 1962, French officials in Algeria told him and his neighbours to leave their homes in the southern city of Tamanrasset. It was just a precaution. France was about to detonate an atom bomb, known as Beryl, in the desert some 150km away. The blast would be contained underground. Two French ministers were there to witness the test. But things did not go as planned. The underground shaft at the blast site was not properly sealed. The mountain above the site cracked and black smoke spread everywhere, says Mr Touhami. The ministers (and everyone else nearby) ran as radioactive particles leaked into the air. Nevertheless, in the months and years after, locals would go to the area to recover scrap metal from the blast for use in their homes.
Economist 24th June 2021 read more »