From Natural Catastrophes to Human Tragedies: 40 Facts About Gruesome Disasters

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26Lima nightclub fire

Lima nightclub fire

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.

27. 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.

28. 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.

29. 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.

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

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31Benxihu Colliery

Benxihu Colliery

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.

32. 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.

33. 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.

34. 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.

35. 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.

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36Vajont dam

Vajont dam

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."

37. 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.

38. 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.

39. "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.

40. 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.

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