The 10 Worst Disasters Ever

History is filled with man-made disasters. We discover the truth about some of these infamous cases, and how humanity played a crucial role in their events.  Below are the list of 10 of the worst man-made disasters in the world. 

The Aberfan Colliery Slip


It’s not often that big man-made catastrophes occur in Britain. The Aberfan colliery was even more shocking. The Aberfan village, in the Welsh Valleys, was built around a nearby coal mine, which was established in 1869. In 1966, the settlement was established and seven enormous spoil piles, which were leftovers from the mines, surrounded the village.


Aberfan’s mine disaster caused the destruction of a school, houses and a railroad line. Although this isn’t necessarily a problem because the village of Aberfan was flooded with more than 6 inches of rain in October 1966 and the seventh spoil pile was forced to disappear. According to Smithsonian magazine: A large quantity of saturated material broke away from the pile and moved towards the village at speeds ranging between 11 and 21 miles an hour (approximately 17, 34, and 30 kilometers). The results were devastating.


The avalanche caused the deaths of 144 people. According to the Independent, 116 children were among them. The material was swift and hurled at the school, causing damage to the elementary school and secondary schools nearby. 18 homes were also damaged.


According to BBC, thousands of volunteers went to Aberfan to assist rescue efforts. Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Aberfan within days. The Aberfan tragedy remains one of Britain’s most devastating mining disasters. The Seveso disaster


Seveso’s chemical spillage required special remedial measures. The industrial accident happened at a chemical facility north of Milan, Italy. On Saturday July 10 1976, the factory was producing a chemical called 2,4,5-Trichlorophenol, which has been used as a chemical weapon and in weedkillers, according to the journal Chemosphere.


A chain reaction caused the reactor to explode, causing six tonnes of toxic chemical fumes to erupt into the air. According to Environment international, the cloud settled on 6 square miles (18 kilometers) of the surrounding land, including Seveso. Many people were forced to evacuate large areas of land because of skin conditions. Children were taken to the hospital for skin inflammations. Many animals were killed to stop toxic chemicals from reaching the food chain.


Seveso’s disaster also had a lasting impact. Studies in 1976 showed that the number of deaths from heart and respiratory disease has increased and certain types cancers were more common in affected areas.

Chernobyl meltdown


The massive explosion at Chernobyl unleashed nuclear material into our atmosphere. (Image credit to Getty Images ). The Chernobyl explosion is one of the most notorious man-made disasters. Engineers began the experiment innocently, to determine if emergency water cooling would still work in case of power loss.


The test had been done before, but this time there was a power surge, and engineers couldn’t shut down Chernobyl’s reactors. One reactor produced steam, the roof collapsed, the nuclear core was exposed and radioactive material released into the air.


Acute radiation exposure caused by the work of firefighters and workers quickly killed 28 people. It took more than two weeks for the fires to be extinguished, with military intervention. Importantly, it took more that a day to evacuate the 50,000 residents from nearby Pripyat. After this, the government created a 19-mile (30km long) “exclusion area” and constructed a containment dome on top.


Numerous people have died from cancer as a result of radiation over the years. It’s also considered one of the worst natural disasters, with cleanup efforts expected to continue up until 2065. Although Libby’s mine has been sealed, asbestos-related deaths have occurred in many Montana residents. Getty Images Image Credit


The history of Libby Montana started with settlers arriving in the 1800s. The town grew due to the construction of mines and railroads. Libby was forever changed by Vermiculite’s discovery in 1919. Vermiculite is used in many ways, from car parts to gardening, to making jewelry, and even as a substitute for asbestos. In 1963, Libby’s mine was producing 80%. It’s a lucrative business, but there are some types of vermiculite that contain asbestos. This can lead to a wide range of lung problems.


Vermiculite from Libby, Montana contained asbestos. The mining company was well aware of the dangers. However, they did not tell anyone. People in Libby used the mine waste products for construction and landscaping, as well ice rinks and school projects.


Nearly 10% of the town died due to asbestos-related illness. The Mesothelioma Hope organization says that the asbestos fibres that caused the health problems were easily passed to others.


In effect, the toxic cloud that had covered the town for decades was a constant threat to its survival. According to Guardian, although the mine was shut down in 1990, the town’s problems weren’t well-known until 1999. The US government declared an emergency at Libby in 2009 to clean up the area.


It was too late. Asbestos-related diseases have caused the deaths of hundreds of people. Thousands more have been sickened. In 2018, new cases of death and disease were reported due to long-term exposure to these toxic substances. The Asbestos Risks For decades, asbestos fibres can cause serious problems in the body.


The Environmental Protection Agency, the US government, investigated more than 8,000 properties within Libby. It had to decontaminate over 3,000 sites where asbestos was used in building construction. The clean-up effort cost more than half billion dollars and involved the replacement of more than 1 million cubic yards. The site of the former mine is now safe from contamination. It has also seen a decrease in costs in recent years. This project was the largest asbestos cleanup project in American history.

The Deepwater Horizon


Satellite imagery shows the extent and consequences of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Oil spillages are some of the most visible human-made disasters. In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon incident was the largest ever marine oil spillage. Named for the drilling equipment at the center of the incident.


Live Science reported that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was floating and was drilling exploratory oil wells at an estimated 18,300 feet (5.600m) below sea level in Gulf of Mexico. This, by itself, was not a problem. The rig was operating within its limits. However, methane gas escaping from the underwater well exploded into the drilling platform on April 20th 2010. It killed 11 workers and evacuated the remaining ninety-four members of the crew. Two days later, however, the rig was completely submerged.


At that point however, an enormous oil slick had formed from the submerged well and was spreading at the site. BP, the company who contracted Deepwater Horizon for exploratory drilling, attempted to stop it with remote-controlled underwater vehicles, a 137-ton (125 metric tonne) containment dome and drilling a secondary one. However, the oil flowed for 87 consecutive days. It is estimated that approximately 210 million gallon (around 954 millions liters of oil) were released from the underwater well. The spillage directly affected 70,000 sq miles (181, 000 kilometers) of the Gulf of Mexico.


How to Clean Up the Spill. The Deepwater Horizon oil disaster was a catastrophe. How do you clean it all? However, the environmental impacts were being felt worldwide by the Deepwater Horizon oil spillage that killed millions of animals in the US and other countries.

The Bhopal disaster


Candlelit vigils remember those who died in the Bhopal gas leaking incident. (Image credit to Getty Images) According to The Atlantic on December 2, 1984 there was a gas leaking from a Bhopal pesticide factory. A malfunctioning safety system caused 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate, a chemical that can cause cancer, to leak into the atmosphere. It’s a lot of toxic material. Furthermore, the plant was surrounded with densely packed housing. More than 600,000 people were therefore exposed to the cloud.


People who lived around the plant were not notified quickly and hospital staff were provided with conflicting information. Live Science reported previously that innocent people were subject to symptoms like eye irritation, burning, breathing problems, vomiting, and coughing. Many people died within hours. There were also thousands of animals who died. Long-term studies after the accident confirmed that thousands of people were still suffering from eye, lung and psychological injuries. However, it is difficult to estimate how many people have been affected.

The Sidoarjo volcanic mud volcano


Sidoarjo still displays statues left behind by the residents of destroyed villages. (Image credit to Getty Images ). Most people associate lava flowing from volcanoes with a volcano. However, in Sidoarjo in Indonesia you will find the world’s largest mud volcano. The explosion occurred at a gas well that was drilled by an energy company. However, company officials claim that the problem was caused by an earthquake approximately 155 miles (250 km) away.


There are over 1000 mud volcanoes worldwide, but this Indonesian instance is the most likely to be caused by human activity, according the journal Mud Volcanoes, Geodynamics and Seismicity. It all began on May 28, 2006, when a borehole to close to 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) was drilled. This caused steam, water and gas to rise from the ground near it, and water, steam and then mud started to appear again the next day. It is often called Lumpur Lapindo or the Lusi volcanic eruption. According to the BBC, it erupted initially with more than 6.3 Million cubic feet (180,000 cumeters) of mud per daily.


One hundred and eleven people were killed in a pipeline explosion. 30,000 residents were evacuated from that area. According to’s news site, more than 10,000 homes and a dozen villages were destroyed. The mud flow also polluted nearby rivers with metal. Birth of a VolcanoHow was the outflowing of mud triggered?

North Pacific Garbage Patch


There aren’t many man-made catastrophes as big or visible as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The problem is not complicated. A lot of trash has made its ways into the ocean through the negligence of humans over the past decade. This map shows where it collects. Image credit: NOAA. The patch runs from California to Japan. It actually consists of two distinct tracts of trash, one on the eastern side and one on the western. The vortex is formed when currents pull rubbish together. These small objects are unable to escape.


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch does not consist of only crisp packets and bottles. The plastic that makes up the majority of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been reduced to tiny pieces. This causes the water to look cloudy and ecologists believe that 70% or more of ocean debris sinks into the sea bottom.


The estimated size of the patch is variable. It covers approximately 270,000 to 5.8 million square mile (700,000 to 15,000,000km2) depending upon sea movement. The patch contains items that are more than 50 year old because plastics aren’t recyclable. CBS News reported that scientists believe it’s growing ten times faster with each passing decade, despite all efforts to combat the problem.


It is no surprise that the patch has terrible effects on wildlife. Plastic can easily get into the eyes of marine animals, and even fishing nets can lead to death. If they mistakenly believe that plastic items are food, animals could die.


Because plastic can block sunlight and cause algae blooms, the patch has a negative impact on ocean ecosystems and food chain.

California wildfires


Firefighters battled for months to control unprecedented fires that could have killed thousands. (Image credit Getty Images). Wildfires are becoming a greater threat because of climate change. California saw some of the most devastating fires in recent history. California’s 8,500 wildfires claimed more than 100 lives, destroyed 24,000 homes and burned over two million acres.


California saw the majority of fires that occurred in July and August. The government declared it a national disaster. The fires were clearly a man-made disaster. The fires were preceded by an increase of temperatures caused by climate change. Many trees died in California in those years. Scientists predict that California’s extreme weather will soon feel more normal as a result of climate change. It has serious consequences for people’s health.


Explosion at Jilin Chemical Plant


The release of toxic chemicals into critical rivers caused water supply disruptions that lasted for several days. (Image credit to Getty Images) This incident happened in Jilin, China, in November 2005. There were several explosions at the petrochemical plant. According to the New York Times more than 10,000 people had to be evacuated from the area within the first hour after the blasts occurred,


This is a terrible situation, but that’s just part of it. According to the Environmental Emergencies Center (EEC), the explosions released 110 tons (100 million tons) of pollutants into Songhua River. That’s a huge deal because large cities rely on that river for water supply. While supplies were shut down for several days, the cleanup crews cleaned up the river. To help people get through this difficult time, water from unaffected areas had to be brought in. Some cities built deep-water wells in order to avoid being completely dependent on rivers for water.

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