Ekaterina Didenko was celebrating her 29th birthday at the Devyaty Val complex in Moscow when pounds of dry ice were reportedly dumped into the pool in an effort to create an “impressive steam show,” according to the Daily Mail.
Several partygoers were sickened by CO2 gas produced by the material — which is the solid form of carbon dioxide — including Didenko’s husband, 32-year-old Valentin Didenko.
According to the Moscow Times, two victims, both believed to be in their late 20s, died at the scene while Mr. Didenko later died at a hospital. A criminal probe has since been launched.
Prior to the incident, Didenko — who is apparently known for posting money-saving pharmaceutical tips on Instagram — shared an image from her party with her 1.5 million followers, showing herself posing with two large balloons reading “29.”
Later that same day, Didenko reportedly shared a video informing fans that her husband was in an intensive care unit. She looked “shaken and distressed” in the post, the BBC notes.
It is believed the cause of all three deaths was suffocation.
Dry ice safety guidelines created by the University of Washington warn that the material poses a “unique” safety hazard for those working with it.
The university explains that dry ice, at a frigid -109 °F, can cause severe frostbite upon contact, and also poses asphyxiation hazard, as it sublimates into toxic CO2 at any temperature above -109 °F. The danger is compounded in non-ventilated or confined spaces.
“This releases potentially substantial volumes of CO2 (1 pound solid = 250 liters gas), which can displace oxygen quickly in the air around the dry ice, causing difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness and death,” the guidelines warn.
Further, dry ice can cause explosions when stored in closed containers where sublimated gas is unable to escape.
The university recommends that those handling dry ice wear appropriate protective gear, never touch it with bare hands and always store it in a well-ventilated location.
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