We may call some catastrophes “accidents,” but in other cases decisions are made — by those ordinarily trusted to make the right call — that are so poor they become truly remarkable in their negligence. In this account, we profile 10 shocking disasters and significant crises that were brought about largely through some extraordinarily bad choices. Some of these are well known, others more obscure. But one thing is for certain: some truly horrendous decisions played huge roles in these terrible disasters…
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10. Air France Air Show Crash (France)
9. Vajont Dam Disaster (Italy)
8. The Queen of the North Sinking (Canada)
7. Chernobyl (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Soviet Union)
6. Japan Airlines Flight 123 (Japan)
5. Rana Plaza Collapse (Bangladesh)
4. Sampoong Department Store Collapse (South Korea)
3. The Halifax Explosion (Canada)
2. Herald of Free Enterprise Sinking (Belgium)
1. Hyatt Regency Walkway Collapse (United States)
They missed the Texas City harbor explosion. only the largest industrial accident in US history:
The town made headlines in 1947 when a fire on a cargo ship reached the explosive payload and detonated. The blast was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in U.S. history, and the disaster would claim the lives of nearly six hundred people.
The S.S. Grandcamp was a French-operated 437-foot vessel tasked with assisting the rebuilding of war-torn Europe.
In addition to 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate, the ship was carrying ammunition, machinery, and bales of twine. It had just been loaded with supplies and was getting prepared for its journey across the Atlantic.
More than five hundred homes were leveled and countless others damaged. The two-ton anchor of the Grandcamp was found 1.6 miles (2.6 km) away in a 10-foot crater. Flaming shrapnel would continue to fall out of the sky over Texas City for several minutes, setting buildings, refineries, and homes on fire.
How you can put plane crashes and bridge collapses on this list and leave off Texas City is truly baffling.
Bill Gates, by giving billions in medicine to Africa is causing a population explosion that is unsustainable. The only outcome is starvation, genocide, mass migration to Europe or induction into jihad Islam. His actions are contrary to the interests of the civilized world, contrary to the stability of the African continent. Gates, Soros and Buffet are a sick trio that wish to buy a legacy, any legacy. They seek fame and endearment that they can't buy in the West or Asia, their ego's can never be satisfied. They are fundamentally different than the robber barons of the past in that they hate America except for what they can take from it. Their tax-free gifts are neither gifts or free. The price will be unimaginable suffering, similar to a cat-hoarder that breeds 100's of geneticly-deficient cats in a one-room apt. on welfare income. Africa can only support 600 million people, The Trio-of-Evil is artificially breeding a billion. Who the hell is going to house, feed and water the 100's of millions they have already bred?
I wish the Trio had put their money in Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians, where there is room and opportunity for them to grow in numbers. Adding a billion to Africa in 2 generations is a sure disaster. The Trio is not stupid and knows what will happen. So why do they do it?
Almost all huge accidents boil down to GREED.
Inadequate safety - cut corners to save more money for themselves.
Cover ups - Too costly to fix things properly, and/or compensate innocent lives ruined or lost. (Add saving face/reputation to this as well, which in the end boils down to the ability to keep making money)
Simple errors like leaving the gate open on a ferry - Although we can blame greed for the lack of simple warning lights, there is also the underlying greed of laziness!
No one bothering to check because it simply isn’t what they are PAID to do. This kind of greed plays out in many/most unnecessary deaths and injuries every single day.
The RMS Titanic sinking 4 days into it's maiden voyage on April 14/15 1912, with 2,224 people aboard. The ship received 6 warnings of sea ice on April 14 but continued to travel at near maximum speed. That along with the lack of proper amount of lifeboats, lax regulations, and the unequal treatment of the three passenger classes led to an estimated 1,490 to 1,635 deaths. Poor management of the evacuation meant many lifeboats were launched while without being completely full.
Oooh, two of these were mentioned in detail in "Set Phasers on Stun: And Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error", which is definitely worth the read if you're interested in further topics like this. Especially if you want proper details on the how and the why!
As usual slick production but missing information and disrespectful intercuts spoil this for example no mention of key info in the first example such as how many passengers were on board and then intercut airplane horror movie crash footage. Shame on you
Just finished vid: so Chernobyl ONLY incident that you don't state casualties for?
Also, would have thought KLM Tenerife disaster warranted mention: nearly 600 dead essentially because pilot didn't want to get home late... !?!
In the Great Hanshin Quake thousands died when the mayor of Kobe refused help from the Japanese and US forces. He also forbade helicopter water bombing of the blazing city, allowing many trapped people to be burned alive.
The Aberfan waste tip slide, Oct '66 in Wales, 116 children (and 28 adults) were killed when a coal mining waste pile liquefied into a tsunami that engulfed the town and a primary school in a valley below the mound despite warnings about the effect constant rain was having on the stability of the tip.
Too many Anti-nuclear people point at Chernobyl as evidence that Nuclear Reactors are bad and dangerous. And yes yes they are...when EVERYTHING goes wrong, as explained. Nuclear is the safest, most efficient, and cleanest energy source we know of (even more than solar and wind. Yes really. Do some research).
N3V3R FORGOTT3N and the nuclear accident from time to time and the cases NOT reported when nuclear disasters was really close to happend.
The problem is also if the enemy country builds nuclear power plant close to your border and you got big city there. So its like a bigticking time bomb close to your head.
brilliant research... any sign of cruelty in mind from humans with these disasters and how they happened to humans? If so you suspect cruelty, americans have a 8th amendment constitution for such punishments cruel and unusual punishments.... Crazy thing what people with money and education are capable of doing to another human being.
Bangladesh and South Korea (building collapse): all those responsible for these disasters including the owner were imprisoned. Ferry Of Free Enterprise (UK/Europe): Only the Bosun was charged. The fact that a £5 warning light on the bridge was never considered a safety precaution did not lead to any prosecutions amongst those who owned the ship
It’s a great service by this channel to point out that human stupidity and gross negligence caused these disasters. Many people believe such events are caused by unforeseeable mechanical failures and other nonhuman causes. Certainly contemporaneous press releases rarely mention negligence.
Another contender: the space shuttle Challenger explosion. On the day of the launch, more than 40 NASA engineers told management to delay the launch because it was too cold outside for the booster's o-rings to seal. Besides temperature sensors, many NASA cameras clearly showed a thick layer of ice covering the launchpad equipment. But management wanted to time the launch to coincide with an upcoming speech by President Reagan, so they didn't want to wait until later in the day, when the weather would warm up. YouTube has a few very detailed videos analyzing the design and testing of those giant O-rings. One engineer in particular made a real stink, and he was repeatedly threatened with firing.
I am a retired engineer, and in my career I have only worked at one company where management did not make a series of avoidable, stupid decisions that had negative impacts. When the engineers called a series of meetings to demonstrate why a pending decision would be a mistake, management never listened. We would predict the precise negative impact(s), exactly why they would happen, and approximately when it (they) would happen. And we would always give management at least one sensible alternative, already costed out and timed out. In the end, we were unfortunately ALWAYS proven correct. Afterward, when we would call another meeting and show them old e-mails proving that we had correctly predicted the negative impact, including when it would occur, and additional old e-mails showing that management had ignored our warnings, we would say this is evidence that we should be listened to in the future. Not only did all of the managements (except one) ignore everything said in the post-incident meetings, they would continue to refuse to listen to the engineers when they gave other warnings in the future. The companies always had to spend hundreds to thousands of times more to correct the mistake and the damage, than if they had simply listened to their engineers.
Kat, I have thought about that question a lot, because my strong personal instinct has always been to try to make things (and systems) work and to constantly improve them. I think the answer is that for most people in large organizations, the ONLY thing that matters is that they keep their job, and secondarily that they get promoted. Literally nothing else matters to them, including the financial health of their company, not whether things actually work, not whether things are legal or fair or honest or ethical, not whether some or all of their coworkers are killed, and not whether some or all of their customers are killed. Keeping their job outweighs ALL other factors except perhaps going to prison or saving the lives of their own spouse and children. If they knew they wouldn't get blamed, most people in large organizations would willingly let 100 innocent children be killed rather than pre-emptively raise a fuss about it at work. Keeping their heads down, going with the flow, being liked, blaming other people or departments, covering their butts, and being seen as a "yes man" are everything. So when one or more engineers tells management of an upcoming problem that should be avoided or fixed, every manager's first instinct is to silence the engineers, pretend that either he was never informed or that he didn't understand what the engineers were talking about, and then work quickly and secretly to form a strategy to blame others and to cover his own butt. Every manager has a laser focus on what his boss likes/wants, and since engineers are seen as being relatively low on the totem pole, no manager gives the slightest damn what engineers want/say. It is nearly impossible to adequately describe how weak, uncaring, lacking in ethical and moral fiber, and self serving most people are.
You left out the flagrantly bad decision that caused the Chernobyl reactor to explode: During a test, where they let the coolant run low, the reactor stopped producing power, so they pulled the control rods all the way out of the reactor. They didn't put them back, until the technician watching the #4 reactor noticed the top chattering from the steam coming off. By that time, it was already too late, because the control rods were tipped with Carbon. The body of the rods are made of Boron, which absorbs neutrons, dampening the reaction. Carbon has just the opposite effect, moderating the energy neutrons, so they are more likely to cause fission. The effect was that when the tips of the rods came down to the level of the water, they didn't slow the reaction, but goosed it, causing a steam explosion.
The technician operating the control rods refused to put them out, but he wasn't in charge, but his boss got somebody else to do it. Even back then, removing the control rods from a nuclear reactor, while it is running, was illegal in Western countries.
The airshow accident was due to airbus demonstrating automatic landing. The fly-by-wire enabled the plane to ignore input from the pilot when he realized something had gone wrong and tried to land the plane and the plane would not let him. Airbus wanted to show off their auto-land and had a plane full of passengers (victims). A horrible accident do to arrogance. Three people were killed, but there 136 passengers, so it could been much worse
Well, that's me thoroughly depressed for the rest of the day. Thanks Top Tenz. Especially as you never mentioned the MAJOR disaster that happened a few weeks ago. I spilt milk all over my kitchen floor! It was hard not to of cried about it, but, as the saying goes. It was a brand new bottle, too.
Station night club fire 2003
Fireworks set off inside a small and overcrowded building with flammable foam readily available.
Too few exits (one of which was blocked by a security guard) lead to 100 people burning to death.
Worse yet the entire thing was fought on camera real time the video is truly harrowing.
Onteresting list, and i realize that time is always a concern, but more detail of at least the basic of the poor decisions would have made them much more useful. I also think that nikki differentuating between true bad decisions and a actual ignoring of known solutions (such as existing regulations) is vital.
I expected the Texas City Disaster (one of the largest non-nuclear explosions and the US's deadliest industrial disaster) to be on the list. It killed hundreds of people and the ensuing lawsuit found numerous counts of negligence on the part of multiple parties.
I got one!
*Here's a brilliantly bold decision executed with only that over the top sort of confidence thats able to save those precious few secods most people use to think
*In the summer of 2008, Iowa was experiencing flooding along Riviers running through the eastern part of the state. At the Penford plant in the city of Cedar Rapids, an engineer, lacking common sense and filled with irrational fears of washed out bridges: lets say, a scene from a reoccurring nightmare, made a judgement call not to listen to a single second opinion, less it mirrored his own, and had a number of rail cars filled with rocks and parked the train of rocks across the bridge from shore to shore. His plan was to weight thw bridge down with as much weight as he could so as to keep the damn thing from washing away. Well his plan went astary when the bridge gave out when the water made contact with the parked train end resulting in a dam. The river was un able to wash away. As a result the river crested above the ability to measure the depth accurately, and the river banks made it all way out to the 1000 year flood plain, days
I have viewed this clip three times including this one) the first was of an aircraft crashing after take off. The second was the same clip but it was supposedly of a remote controlled aircraft. And the third view is this clip.
The air france flight had multiple errors. In particular the programming of the flight control system. It put the plane into a landing pattern and over rode the pilots command for more power. It was crashed by the programmers. Too much automation.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I recall the direct cause of the Air France crash was the aircraft was in a landing configuration (low altitude, low speed, gear down), and the flight computer thought the plane was going to land so it ignored the pilots control inputs, thus landing in the forrest. Apparently the pilot had no way to overide the computer. At least that's what I recall being reported at the time.
Yes Scott (with thine Antarctic explorer archetype handle) that reminds me of an extraordinarily tactless joke that for me effectively used humor as a means to convey the senseless loss of life driven by Western avarice. I'm utterly appalled by this corporate behavior and their pathetic justifications. Worse, it is still going on.
Q. Who killed more Indians than John Wayne?
A. Union Carbide
sorry remote landing was done in desert usa.. think national geographic was involved in remote. france crash in to trees real systems in planes now becoming to complex need one pilot just to monitor computer system ..
Simon, love the vid's - there is one thing you left out that I would have liked to have seen added; in the Japanese airline crash two of the mechanic's responsible for the ill-repair of the damaged bulkhead committed suicide. I know its common in that culture, but it seems relevant.
If your work can kill people, you ARE held responsible. Every competant engineer knows that, and is taught that in his first day of engineering school. Anyone in that position who allows their superior to override their judgement is morally and legally accountable.
As a lifetime Kansas City resident I remember the Hyatt skywalk collapse. It was horrible. It was during a New Year's Eve party and people were gathered in big numbers and the vibration of dancing was thought to help cause the collapse.
I find it very odd it's listed as your number 1 thing. The countdown makes me think it was from bad to worst thing. Even if that wasn't the intention, why would you put it after something like complete building collapses or Chernoble which would be the lead up to the worst tragedies? I just thought the order was odd.
Weird cadence to delivery, hard to listen to and absorb the narrative. Long, dense, breathless sentences may be fine for a Faulkner novel but not in a nonfiction verbal presentation. Typical, almost comic example is at 9:47.
The world trade center buildings collapsed did they or did they implode turn to dust , the 1st 864 feet of the building was a steel core more steel then in the titanic turn to dust a colaspe eh ...? Wtf dude ...
+Rob Fraser the towers were 1148 feet in standing height a pan cake collapse would have left over 400 feet of rubble in all directions , take a look at buildings that collapse from earth quakes and note the difference . The towers turned to dust for the most part the 1st 864 feet was a steel core inside a steel core inside a steel core , steel that for the most part was ... where .... more steel used in the core then in the titanic .. hmmmm eh ...
i remember a tv show, and a movie, about Chernobyl: the plant was indeed unstable at low levels.
they were doing some sort of operation or test that required dropping it to a low level. but they got it TOO low, THEN got impatient when trying to get it back up and raised the "control rods" WAY too far, which led to the explosion.
Texas City Explosion, April 16, 1947 in the Port of Texas City, Texas. It was the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history, and one of history's largest non-nuclear explosions. It originated with a fire on board the Grand Camp, which was loaded with 2,200 tons of ammonium nitrate.
FYI, Rammstein's Album Reise, Reise is about Japanese Flight 123. The album artwork shows a damaged aeroplane cockpit voice recorder depicted on the front and back covers. Its caption ("Flugrekorder, nicht öffnen") means "Flight Recorder, Do Not Open". It is also suggestive of the overarching "travelling" theme of the album. Some pressings of the album contain a recording of the last 30 seconds of the flight as an easter egg hidden in the pregap. Also the Japanese Version of the Reise Reise has the American Release of Rosenrot Cover Art.
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