Top 10 Man-Made Catastrophes

As a race, we appear to have an affinity when it comes to killing each other and ourselves. In the past, there have been many accidental incidents and disasters contributing towards much destruction and death- all of which have been completely man-made. Here are ten of those for your perusal.


10. Baghdad Bridge Stampede

On August 31 2005, 953 people were killed in the Iraqi capital as a result of a panicked stampede, following several rumours of an imminent suicide attack. Most the of the dead were Islamic pilgrims on their way to the shrine Imam Musa al-Kazim, one of the 12 Shi’a Imams. The vast crowds were already unsteady following a mortar attack earlier in the day, which an insurgent group linked to al-Qaeda later took responsibility for. When claims of a suicide attack started circulating around the million strong group, many panicked and tried to flee the area over the Al-Aimmah Bridge across the river Tigris.


9. Great Fire of London

In the mid-1600’s London was one of the largest cities on the planet, and certainly the largest in the UK. The element which posed the greatest threat to such built-up areas of the time was of course fire. With no real precautions in place, a fire which started in a bakery on the city’s ‘pudding lane’ on September 2nd 1666 was able to rage on for 3 whole days. Tearing its way through the central infrastructure of the city, the fire claimed over 13,000 houses and 80 churched in this short amount of time.


8. MV Dona Paz

The Philippine passenger ferry MV Dona Paz collided with an oil tanker in the shark infested waters of the Tablas Strait on December 20th 1987. The tanker with which the ferry collided soon caught fire, quickly enveloping the Dona Paz too- it spread causing destruction throughout both ships. As though this wasn’t bad enough, there were no available life jackets on-board- causing the overcrowded vessel to go down with most of its passengers still on board. This incident claimed the lives of over 4,000 people and is known as the worst peacetime maritime disaster ever.


7. Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

Known as one of the most environmentally detrimental human accidents in history, this spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska on the 24th of March 1989. The tanker, Exxon Valdez, was en-route to Long Beach, California when it struck a reef in the sound- spilling an amount of oil argued to be between 200,000 and 700,000 barrels worth. The effects upon the surrounding areas was devastating, although claiming no human lives- the spill severely affected local wildlife.


6. The Great Smog

In a truly sobering sequence of events, many of London’s population were hit hard by the effects of nearby industry when a short period of freak weather conditions combined with industrial pollutants to consume the city in a layer of thick smog. In the weeks following, several thousand fatalities were reported as a direct result of the smog playing havoc the respiratory systems of those exposed to it. Following the incident, several pieces of legislation were passed in an effort to better restrain the cities levels of harmful pollution.

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