Any untimely death leaves us dismayed and with questions regarding the purpose of our existence. In this article we mention some of the major disasters which were not natural and could have been avoided.
1. Bhopal Gas Tragedy
On the Night of 2nd December 1984, 40 tonnes of a toxin Methyl Isocyanate leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide factory (now Dow Jones Chemicals) and settled over the slums in Bhopal. The Indian government mentioned the immediate casualties to be 3500 with more than 15000 deaths in the years since. Campaigners have argued the death toll to be as high as 25000 while the terrifying effects of the gas continuing to this day. The eight accused were convicted to two years each in jail and a fine of Rs. 100,000. The main accused, Warren Andersen, the CEO was flew back to USA and died of natural causes in 2014.
2. MV Dona Paz
The MV Dona Paz was a passenger ferry registered in Phillipines. On the 20th December 1987, the ferry collided with the oil tanker MT Vector while it was enroute from Leyte Island to Manila, Phillipines. The unfortunate event claimed 4386 lives with only 24 survivors and turned out to be the deadliest maritime disaster in history. Although the vessel was overcrowded, the official blame was directed at MT Vector, which was found to be un-seaworthy, and was operating without a license.
3. Church of the Company Fire
The Church of the company of Jesus was a Jesuit church located in downtown Santiago. On the night of the fire, on 8th December 1863, the celebrations of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception were going on when an oil lamp at the top of the main altar ignited some of the veils that decorated the walls. The fire spread so rapidly that the people present didn’t have any chance to run out of the church. It claimed more than 2500 lives which is probably the most number of deaths caused by fire in any one building anywhere in the world. The horror of the event were such that entire families were wiped out.
4. Glen Cinema Disaster
On the afternoon of 31st December 1929, a children’s matinee was being held at Glen Cinema in Paisley, Scotland. A freshly shown, still hot film was put in a metal can in the spool room where it began to issue thick black smoke. The smoke soon filled the cinema which contained about 1000 children. Due to panic, children ran towards the door in such numbers that they piled up. The door, designed to open only on the inside was padlocked hence restricting any exit. 71 children lost their lives in this tragedy. The cinema manager was put on trial for culpable homicide but found not guilty.
5. Great Smog
The Great Smog of ’52 or Big Smoke was a severe air-pollution event that affected London during December 1952. A period of cold weather, combined with an anticyclone and windless conditions, collected airborne pollutants mostly 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 after a change of weather. Government medical reports in the following weeks estimated that up until 8 December 4,000 people had died prematurely and 100,000 more were made ill because of the smog’s effects on the human respiratory tract. More recent research suggests that the total number of fatalities was considerably greater, at about 12,000. It is known to be the worst air-pollution event in the history of the United Kingdom.
Wondering what these catastrophes have in common? Well, they all took place in December. Let’s be safe and keep others around us safe too.
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