Top 10 Devastating Man-Made Disasters

Added by Edan Barak in History (disasters, catastrophes) on Sep 5, 2014

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," and none more-so than the highway of humanity's achievements. We've learnt to build higher, dig deeper, and generally have gotten better and better at manipulating the world around us to fulfill our every desire. Along the way we've hit some potholes, and at times they've been massive, soul-crushing crevices.

For all of humanity's ingenuity, mistakes do occur, and sometimes become disasters of epic proportions. This list details ten such disasters - not the result of willful destruction such as war (which, if included, would eclipse every other point in this list), but rather the result of simple human negligence, carelessness, or a lack of understand of the world we live in.

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Halifax Explosion

No one knew that the initial explosion, which was caused due to the collision of two ships carrying highly explosive material, was just an invitation to an enormous Tsunami. People gathered across the shoreline to view the damaged vessels sink, when suddenly an 18-meter tall Tsunami wave dragged them into the water.

More than 9,000 people received injuries due to the chunks of heavy metal and around 1,953 were dead on the spot due to the blast and Tsunami.


The Great Smog

In 1952, Londoners didn't know that the coal they were burning to keep their homes warm, could fuel the pollution caused by the harmful industrial gases. Soon the Sulphur Dioxide from the coal cobbled together with the industrial waste and caused respiratory tract-related problems. Fatalities from this deadly gas combination are believed to be close to 12,000 with thousands others ill with the same condition.


Bhopal Disaster

Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) leaked from a pesticide plant in India (Bhopal) when the tank accidently exploded. More than 8,000 people died immediately with nearly 200,000 admitted in hospitals with MIC symptoms. Later reports confirmed the deaths to be around 16,000-30,000.


Fidenae Amphitheatre Collapse

In 27 AD, a local businessman built a stadium to celebrate the Gladiatorial games after the ban was lifted on them. Due to the use of substandard material and urgency to meet the deadline, the construction process was stepped up. However, unfortunately, the venue collapsed on the day of the event. More than 20,000 people were crushed to death on the spot.


Banqiao Dam Collapse

This dam was already repaired before it collapsed due to heavy rainfall in China's Henan province. More than 26,000 people died due to the initial flood while 145,000 were exposed to epidemic diseases. The fatalities were believed to reach 230,000.


Church of the Company Fire

No Church in history has witnessed more devastation than the Church of the Company Fire. During a celebration, one of the church's lamps ignited a long draper. An onlooker tried to extinguish the fire. However, instead of decreasing, the fire intensified and blazed the wooden roof.

Terribly, the church's doors were closed to house maximum people. In an attempt to open those doors, the people at the front were trampled to death. Soon the burning church's roof also collapsed, killing the remaining worshipers. The death toll reached to 3,000 among which most of the deceased were women.


Bombing of Chongqing

In order to avoid the incessant bombardment by the Japanese Army on the Chinese city Chongqing, many people escaped into bomb shelters. However, the bombardment continued for 3 hours and people in the shelters died of suffocation while waiting to get out. More than 2,500 entrapped people lost their lives in safety tunnels. Some people estimate the death toll to be nearly 4,000.


MV Dona Paz

MV Dona Paz met a deadly accident on its way to Manila. After the ship collided with gasoline carrying Dona Paz, the passengers were compelled to jump into the deep sea in order to save their lives. Though official reports confirm the death of 1,583 people, independent officials claim it to be up to 4,000. Only 26 survivors were retrieved from the shark-filled waters.


Benxihu Colliery Explosion

In 1942, the Benxihu coal and iron mine's entrance was set ablaze by a gas explosion in one of its shafts. The Japanese authorities who were heading the project evacuated the site right away. However, the workers were captured inside the burning mine. According to the Japanese authorities, only 34 people died in this dreadful accident. Later, reports confirmed the number of deaths to be 1,549.


Tenerife Airport Disaster

In 1977, Tenerife airport saw the most horrifying aviation accident. The air traffic at the airport was increased incredibly, as a huge bomb went off at Gran Canaria airport. As a result, all flights were diverted to Tenerife Airport. Airport authorities were trying to accommodate the unexpected traffic when dense fog added to their misery.

Two Boeing 747 aircrafts, KLM Flight 408 and Pan Am Flight 1736, were taxing on the runway when they received the 'Ok' signal from the control tower simultaneously. In reality, there was a huge misunderstanding between the pilots and the controller. Both the pilots took their take-off positions without realizing the presence of the other one on the same site.

Nearly 583 people were dead and several others were injured when the KLM plane plunged from a height of 500 feet after its tail had damaged the upper fuselage of Pan Am Flight 1736.

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