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Disasters

Chernobyl disaster

The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the No. 4 nuclear reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat in the north of the Ukrainian SSR. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history and is one of only two nuclear energy disasters rated at seven—the maximum severity—on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan.

Disasters

2019–20 Australian bushfire season

The 2019–20 Australian bushfire season involves a series of bushfires that are currently burning across Australia, predominantly in the south-east. The 2019–20 bushfire season is of notable intensity compared to previous seasons as it has burned an estimated 10.7 million hectares, destroyed over 5,900 buildings and killed 28 people as of 8 January 2020. The bushfires are regarded by the NSW Rural Fire Service as the worst bushfire season in memory. In December 2019, the New South Wales Government declared a state of emergency after record-breaking temperatures and prolonged drought exacerbated the bushfires. It was estimated that close to half a billion animals in New South Wales were affected by the ongoing fires. Other estimates, which include animals like bats, amphibians and invertebrates, put the number killed at over a billion. Ecologists fear some endangered species will be driven to extinction by the fires.

Disasters

Aberfan disaster

The Aberfan disaster was the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip at around 9:15 am on 21 October 1966. The tip had been created on a mountain slope above the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, and overlaid a natural spring. A period of heavy rain led to a build-up of water within the tip which caused it to suddenly slide downhill as a slurry, killing 116 children and 28 adults as it engulfed the local junior school and other buildings. The tip was the responsibility of the National Coal Board (NCB), and the subsequent inquiry placed the blame for the disaster on the organisation and nine named employees.

Disasters

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was an energy accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma, Fukushima Prefecture, started primarily by the tsunami following the Tōhoku earthquake on 11 March 2011. Immediately after the earthquake, the active reactors automatically shut down their sustained fission reactions. However, the ensuing tsunami flooded the emergency generators that were providing power to the pumps that cooled the reactors. The coolant loss led to three nuclear meltdowns, hydrogen-air explosions, and the release of radioactive material in Units 1, 2 and 3 between 12 and 15 March. Coolant loss also raised concerns over the recently loaded spent fuel pool of Reactor 4, which increased in temperature on 15 March due to decay heat from the freshly added spent fuel rods but did not boil down to exposure.

Disasters

Bhopal disaster

The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. It is considered to be the world's worst industrial disaster. Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas. The highly toxic substance made its way into and around the small towns located near the plant.

Disasters

Holodomor

The Holodomor was a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1932 and 1933 that killed millions of Ukrainians. It is also known as the Terror-Famine and Famine-Genocide in Ukraine, and sometimes referred to as the Great Famine or The Ukrainian Genocide of 1932–33. It was part of the wider Soviet famine of 1932–33, which affected the major grain-producing areas of the country. During the Holodomor, millions of inhabitants of Ukraine, the majority of whom were ethnic Ukrainians, died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Ukraine. Since 2006, the Holodomor has been recognized by Ukraine and 15 other countries as a genocide of the Ukrainian people carried out by the Soviet government.

Disasters

Great Famine (Ireland)

The Great Famine or the Great Hunger was a period of mass starvation, disease, and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1849. With the greatest impacted areas to the west and south of Ireland, where the Irish language was primarily spoken, the period was contemporaneously known as in Irish: An Drochshaol, loosely translated as the hard-times. The worst year of the period, that of "Black 47", is known as Irish: Bliain an Drochshaoil. During the famine, about one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland, causing the island's population to fall by between 20% and 25%.

Disasters, Transportation

Hindenburg disaster

The Hindenburg disaster occurred on May 6, 1937, in Manchester Township, New Jersey, United States. The German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at Naval Air Station Lakehurst. Of the 97 people on board, there were 35 fatalities. One worker on the ground was also killed, raising the death toll to 36.

Disasters

Hillsborough disaster

The Hillsborough disaster was a fatal crush of people during an FA Cup football match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, on 15 April 1989. With 96 fatalities and 766 injuries, it remains the worst disaster in British sporting history. The crush occurred in the two standing-only central pens in the Leppings Lane stand, allocated to Liverpool supporters. Shortly before kick-off, in an attempt to ease overcrowding outside the entrance turnstiles, the police match commander, chief superintendent David Duckenfield, ordered exit gate C opened, leading to an influx of even more supporters to the pens.

Disasters

The Station nightclub fire

The Station nightclub fire occurred on Thursday, February 20, 2003, in West Warwick, Rhode Island, killing 100 people and injuring 230. The fire was caused by pyrotechnics set off by the tour manager of the evening's headlining band Great White, which ignited plastic foam used as sound insulation in the walls and ceilings surrounding the stage. The blaze reached flashover within one minute, causing all combustible materials to burn. Intense black smoke engulfed the club in 5½ minutes. Video footage of the fire shows its ignition, rapid growth, the billowing smoke that quickly made escape impossible, and blocked egress that further hindered evacuation. The toxic smoke, heat, and the resulting human crush toward the main exit killed 100; 230 were injured and another 132 escaped uninjured. Many of the survivors developed posttraumatic stress disorder as a result of psychological trauma.

Geography, Disasters

Toba catastrophe theory

The Toba supereruption was a supervolcanic eruption that occurred about 75,000 years ago at the site of present-day Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia. It is one of the Earth's largest known eruptions. The Toba catastrophe theory holds that this event caused a global volcanic winter of six to ten years and possibly a 1,000-year-long cooling episode.

Disasters

Johnstown Flood

The Johnstown Flood occurred on May 31, 1889, after the catastrophic failure of the South Fork Dam on the Little Conemaugh River 14 miles (23 km) upstream of the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The dam broke after several days of extremely heavy rainfall, releasing 14.55 million cubic meters of water. With a volumetric flow rate that temporarily equaled the average flow rate of the Mississippi River, 2,209 people, according to one account, lost their lives, and the flood accounted for $17 million of damage.

Disasters

Yarnell Hill Fire

The Yarnell Hill Fire was a wildfire near Yarnell, Arizona, ignited by lightning on June 28, 2013. On June 30, it overran and killed 19 City of Prescott firefighters, members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. It was the deadliest U.S. wildfire since the 1991 East Bay Hills fire, which killed 25 people, and the deadliest wildland fire for U.S. firefighters since the 1933 Griffith Park Fire, which killed 29 impromptu civilian firefighters. It was also the most fatal incident of any kind involving U.S. firefighters since the September 11 attacks, which killed 343. It is the sixth-deadliest American firefighter disaster overall and the deadliest wildfire ever in Arizona.

Disasters

Great Chinese Famine

The Great Chinese Famine was a period in the People's Republic of China between the years 1959 and 1961 characterized by widespread famine. Drought, poor weather, and the policies of ruler Mao Zedong contributed to the famine, although the relative weights of the contributions are disputed. Estimates of deaths due to starvation range in the tens of millions.

Disasters

Great Smog of London

The Great Smog of London, or Great Smog of 1952, was a severe air-pollution event that affected the British capital of London in early December 1952. A period of cold weather, combined with an anticyclone and windless conditions, collected airborne pollutants—mostly arising from the use of coal—to form a thick layer of smog over the city. It lasted from Friday, 5 December to Tuesday, 9 December 1952 and then dispersed quickly when the weather changed.