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The effects of Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein's setting fire to the oil wells in Kuwait during February 1991 is graphically captured in this near-vertical photograph of the northwestern end of the Persian Gulf. The black smoke plumes of more than 700 individual oil well fires are being blown to the south.
Kuwait City is located on the south side of Kuwait Bay, southwest of the Tigris-Euphrates Delta. Fortunately, the oil well fires were extinguished in much less time than had been originally predicted, and the environmental damage created by the fires and smoke was mostly confined to the immediate region around the northwestern Persian Gulf. (Refer to STS046-74-094 for a photograph of the same area to see how quickly the desert is reclaiming the land in this region.)
Date Taken: February 1991
Credits: Image courtesy of Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson