25 Facts About Biggest Historical Tragedies

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1Ocoee Massacre

The Ocoee massacre was a white mob attack on African-American residents in northern Ocoee, Florida, which occurred in 1920 on the day of the U.S. presidential election. Over 50 to 60 African Americans were killed when one African American man attempted to vote.


2. After the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, there were too many bodies to bury so the corpses were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. Shortly thereafter the bodies began to wash back onshore and survivors constructed funeral pyres to burn the corpses. The fires burned day and night for weeks.


3. During the Iroquois Theatre fire of 1903 over 602 people died. It gained a lot of attention as the victims were mainly women and children from an upper-middle-class background. The theatre had been falsely billed as “absolutely fireproof”, but lacked basic safety infrastructure. Public outrage caused lawsuits to be filed against the owners of the theatre and of the Mayor. In the end, the only person convicted was a tavern keeper charged with grave robbing.


4. Many who survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in 1945 were subsequently eaten by sharks as they bobbed in open waters for four days. Navy intelligence had ignored a message from the sub that had torpedoed it, thinking it was a trick to lure American rescue boats into an ambush.


5. Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place on in 1919, when Acting Brigadier-General Dyer ordered troops of the British Indian Army to fire their rifles into a crowd of unarmed Indian civilians, killing at least 379 people. It was a decisive step towards the end of British rule in India.


6Silent Holocaust

The Guatemalan government carried out a genocide in the 1980s known as the Silent Holocaust against the Mayan people. Throughout it, the US government under Ronald Reagan gave Guatemala military aid, helping the genocidaires commit their atrocities.


7. In 1975, a “once-in-2000-years” flood caused the failure of the Banqiao Dam in China, which killed 171,000 people and made nearly 6 million buildings collapse. This is the “largest known dam disaster in human history” and in spite of the devastation it caused, this disaster was hidden from the world until 2005.


8. In the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857, a gang of Mormons banded up to attack a wagon train full of families in Southern Utah. The aggressors pretended to be Native Americans. When they feared discovery by the victims, they murdered about 120 people to avoid leaving witnesses to testify.


9. The 1902 Saint-Pierre Volcanic eruption killed all 35,000 people in the town except one man (Ludger Sylbaris) who survived because he was the worst prisoner on the island and therefore lived in a solitary confinement cell.


10. In 1769, the Bastion of San Nazaro in Brescia, Italy was struck by lightning. The resulting fire ignited 90 tonnes of gunpowder being stored there, and the subsequent explosion destroyed one-sixth of the city and killed 3,000 people.


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111984 Sikh Massacre

The 1984 anti-Sikh riots, also known as the 1984 Sikh Massacre, was a series of organized pogroms against Sikhs in India following the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. The ruling Indian National Congress had been inactively complicit with the mob, as to the organization of the riots. Government estimates project that about 2,800 Sikhs were killed in Delhi and 3,350 nationwide, whilst independent sources estimate the number of deaths at about 8,000–17,000.


12. On March 25, 1990 a jealous ex-boyfriend torched a Bronx social club with gasoline to get revenge on his ex-girlfriend. He ended up killing 87 people in what would become the deadliest fire in New York City since the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire that occurred 79 years before on the very same day.


13. During the Bodo League Massacre more than 100,000 suspected communists were killed by the South Korean government in 1950. US, Australian, and British officials witnessed and photographed the political genocide.


14. The 1815 Mount Tambora eruption killed 100,000 people and caused a volcanic winter and a massive famine around the world. To this day it is the most powerful recorded eruption ever. It is rated VEI 7 on the Volcano Explosivity Index. It is widely known as “The Year without a summer.”


15. The Wounded Knee Massacre was a domestic massacre of 300 unarmed Lakota people by soldiers of US Army. 20 soldiers received Medals of Honor for the incident, including one for “conspicuous bravery in rounding up and bringing to the skirmish line a stampeded pack mule.”


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16Stardust fire

A number of deaths in the Stardust Nightclub fire in Artane, Dublin, Ireland can be attributed to people mistaking the men's restroom for the main exit. 48 died and 214 were injured as a result of the fire.


17. During the 1972 Munich massacre, the German Police had no trained snipers. The army did, but the constitution did not permit the military to be used on German soil during peacetime, adding to the failure of the rescue operation.


18. During the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistani soldiers killed 3 million Bangladeshi in one of the worst genocides in history. The USA took Pakistan’s side which they regretted later.


19. In 1992, a prison riot broke out in Carandiru Penitentiary in Brazil. The police stormed the prison and 68 of the officers killed 102 inmates. Some inmates were executed after surrendering or when they were hiding in their cells. In 2013, 63 of the police officers were sentenced to 48 to 624 years in jail.


20. During the Ludlow Massacre, in 1914, the Colorado National Guard and the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company open-fired with machine guns on a tent colony of striking coal miners and their families, killing 21 people.


21Circassian Genocide

The Circassian genocide (1864-1870) was the Russian Empire's systematic mass murder, ethnic cleansing, forced migration, and expulsion 1,500,000 Circassians in an attempt to make room for Russian colonization in Circassia.


22. During the Zong Massacre, in 1781, a British slave ship threw 130 chained African slaves overboard and claimed compensation under the ship's insurance. They falsely blamed the act on water shortage and lost their case.


23. The Dzungar genocide was the mass extermination of the Mongol Dzungar people at the hands of the Chinese Qing dynasty. Following a rebellion, the Emperor decided to eradicate the Dzungar. Around 80% of the population was exterminated in what a historian has called “the 18-century genocide par excellence.” This event brought the Uygur into today’s Xinjiang.


24. The Nevado del Ruiz volcano that erupted in 1985 caused a volcanic mudslide that buried the town of Armero, Colombia and killed approximately 23,000 people.


25. The Carnival tragedy of 1823 was a human crush which occurred in 1823 at a Convent in Malta. About 110 boys who had gone to the convent to receive bread on the last day of carnival celebrations were killed after falling down a flight of steps while trying to get out of the convent.

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