American demolition experts blew up a 19-storey tower in Latvia today (Thursday). It had been part of one of the former Soviet Union's most important radar bases.
Today's blast destroyed the latest and largest installation at the base in Skrunda, Latvia.
Russia will continue to operate older facilities at the base until 1998. After that, the entire radar complex will be dismantled.
It was a real blow-out of a celebration.
The tower was dubbed "The Monster" by locals. This unfinished relic of the Cold War was seen by Latvians as a last remnant of 50 years of hated Soviet occupation of their Baltic nation.
A series of explosions sent it collapsing as fireworks burst overhead and loud music accompanied the blasts.
Tens of thousands of people spilled out onto country roads and fields to watch the early morning spectacle, which was also televised nationwide.
Latvian leaders, diplomats and other dignitaries toasted the blast with champagne.
This demolition was sponsored by the United States, the Soviet Union's main nuclear rival. Washington paid the seven (m) million dollar bill for the work. The job was done by U-S-based Controlled Demolition Inc.
Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Skrunda served as one of Moscow's most important radar stations, responsible for scanning skies to the west for incoming bombers or nuclear missiles.
In a 1994 treaty, Latvia agreed to let Moscow continue limited operations at Skrunda- in return for the pullout of Russia's remaining troops from Latvia.
The structure's 41-thousand concrete blocks and 8-thousand tons of reinforced steel beams were intended to help it withstand heavy enemy fire. Its foundation ran 25 meters (80 feet) deep into the ground.