50 Bizarre Facts about Gruesome Disasters

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26Wanggongchang gunpowder explosion

The Wanggongchang gunpowder factory explosion of 1626, in Beijing, China killed 20,000 people and was heard 150 km away. Victims were stripped of their clothing due to the force of the blast. The cause behind it has never been determined.


27. West Loch disaster was a maritime accident that sank 6 ships and killed nearly 200 Americans in Pearl Harbor during World War 2 in 1944. It was censored and classified until 1960 and thus very little known is known about the disaster.


28. In 1989, 96 people were killed at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England after they were crushed due to overcrowding. Although match attendees and hooliganism were first cited as the cause, a 2016 inquiry found the police to be at fault due to their mismanagement of the crowd.


29. In the Balvano train disaster of 1944, over 500 people illegally riding a steam-hauled freight train died of carbon monoxide poisoning when the train stalled on a steep gradient in a tunnel in Basilicata, southern Italy.


30. The Burnden Park disaster was a human crush that occurred on 1946 at Burnden Park football stadium in England. The crush resulted in the deaths of 33 people and injuries to hundreds. The bodies were then left covered on the sidelines and the game later restarted, with only a sawdust line separating players from corpses.


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31Kaprun Disaster

The Kaprun disaster was a fire that occurred on a skiing resort train as it passed through a tunnel in Austria. 155 people died and the case was marked by blatant disregard to justice.


32. During the Ozone disco fire of 1996, 162 people died at a nightclub in Quezon City. It is worst fire in Philippine history. Jaydee's ‘Plastic Dreams’ was the last track playing as people died.


33. In 1975, a “once-in-2000-years” flood caused the failure of the Banqiao dam in China, which killed 171,000 people and destroyed nearly 6 million buildings.


34. Limnic Eruptions are a form rare natural disaster in which dissolved carbon dioxide suddenly erupts from deep lake waters, forming a gas cloud capable of suffocating wildlife, livestock, and humans. Lake Nyos in Cameroon had a limnic eruption in 1986 and killed more than 1700 people in their sleep.


35. In 2002, a nightclub fire in Lima, started by unlicensed bartenders doing tricks, was fueled when drunk customers threw alcohol on the flames to try and contain it. Among the resulting casualties were a lion and a tiger.


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36Mount Erebus disaster

In 1979, a passenger jet with 257 people left New Zealand for a sightseeing flight to Antarctica. The pilots were unaware of the altered flight coordinates of 2 degrees. Sadly, the incorrect coordinates led them to a phenomenon known as “sector whiteout” in which there is no contrast between the sky and the ground. It placed them directly in the path of the active volcano Mount Erebus, killing everyone.


37. The Luzhniki disaster was a deadly human crush that took place at the Grand Sports Arena of the Central Lenin Stadium in 1982 in Moscow during a UEFA cup soccer match. It was triggered by a woman losing her shoe and stopping, trying to retrieve it and put it back on. A couple of people also stopped, trying to help the fan in need, but the moving dense crowd on the stairs, limited by metal banisters, promptly crushed them down. Death toll varied in press reports from 3 to 340 fatalities.


38. The Amagasaki derailment was a train accident that occurred in Japan in 2005 that resulted in the deaths of 107 people. While the driver was officially blamed for the crash after running a red signal, it's believed he was unable to focus knowing the punishments he'd face after the infraction.


39. In Alexander L Kielland platform accident, the Norwegian semi-submersible drilling rig/floating hotel turned full submersible, killing 123 people in the process.


40. The worst mining disaster in history, killing 1,549 miners, happened in 1942 in the Benxihu Colliery when Japanese administrators of a mine using forced labor in China cut off the ventilation, trapping 1,518 Chinese laborers and 31 Japanese administrators to die of burns or suffocate.


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41MV Doña Paz disaster

The MV Doña Paz was a Philippine-registered passenger ferry that sank after colliding with the oil tanker MT Vector on December 20, 1987. With an estimated death toll of 4,386 people and only 24 survivors, it was the deadliest peacetime maritime disaster in history.


42. The biggest maritime disaster is believed to be the sinking of MV Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945. An estimated 9,400 out of 10,500 of the passengers perished after the ship was hit by three Soviet torpedoes. This death toll is six times greater than the famous Titanic disaster.


43. In 1976, SS Sansinena, a Liberian oil tanker in Los Angeles harbor exploded suddenly, killing 9 and injuring 46 people. It shattered windows for miles around. Some people even thought it was an earthquake at first. The cause for the trigger to the explosion was never discovered.


44. During the 2003 Station Nightclub fire, a reporter filmed the entire fire from the moment before the pyrotechnics went off on the main stage. He was at the club doing a piece on nightclub safety.


45. In 1968, a landslide event at the Vajont Reservoir in Italy created a mega-tsunami which crested its dam, flooding the valley below. The resulting wave destroyed 5 villages and killed 2000 people. In 2008, UNESCO called the tragedy a "cautionary tale" of "the failure of engineers and geologists."


46Iroquois Theatre fire

Iroquois Theatre fire of 1903 killed over 602 people. 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.


47. In 1927, a fire started in the Laurier Palace Theatre in Montreal, Canada and killed 78 children. The city responded by banning children under 16 from cinemas which lasted until 1961.


48. "The Great Smog" of London, UK was a severe air pollution event that lasted 5 days and killed an estimated 12,000 people in December of 1952.


49. The worst elevator disaster in history happened on September 11, 2001 in NYC. Each tower had 99 elevators that either dropped on impact or were still trapped when the building collapsed, claiming 200 of the 2,977 lives lost that day.


50. In 2014, a massive, deadly gas explosion in a Harlem piano shop sent pianos flying across the store, surrounding the technician who lived there in a protective “cocoon” as the five-story building collapsed. He walked away with only a scratch.

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