Accidents & Disasters

Technology and its related processes have been the site of great innovation and advancement over the course of time, but sometimes such improvements came at a high price, after serious accidents, disasters, or tragedies belatedly prompted closer scrutiny of existing procedures. Advances in science have also improved the accuracy of human predictions on some of nature's most forceful manifestations, but earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and other natural phenomena still yield devastating consequences worldwide.

Accidents & Disasters Encyclopedia Articles

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Challenger disaster
Challenger disaster, explosion of the U.S. space shuttle orbiter Challenger, shortly after its launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on January 28, 1986, which claimed the lives of seven astronauts. The primary goal of shuttle mission 51-L was to launch the second Tracking and Data Relay Satellite...
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Challenger explosion, 1986
2010 Haiti earthquake
2010 Haiti earthquake, large-scale earthquake that occurred January 12, 2010, on the West Indian island of Hispaniola, comprising the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Most severely affected was Haiti, occupying the western third of the island. An exact death toll proved elusive in the...
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Haitian earthquake of 2010
Ebola outbreak of 2014–16
Ebola outbreak of 2014–16, outbreak of Ebola virus disease that ravaged countries in western Africa in 2014–16 and was noted for its unprecedented magnitude. By January 2016, suspected and confirmed cases had totaled more than 28,600, and reported deaths numbered about 11,300, making the outbreak...
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Ebola; ebolavirus
Great Chicago Fire
Great Chicago Fire, conflagration that began on October 8, 1871, and burned until early October 10, devastating an expansive swath of the city of Chicago. Chicago’s growth in the mid-19th century was unprecedented. The population reached nearly 30,000 in 1850 and was triple that a decade later....
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Great Chicago Fire
Great Smog of London
Great Smog of London, lethal smog that covered the city of London for five days (December 5–9) in 1952, caused by a combination of industrial pollution and high-pressure weather conditions. This combination of smoke and fog brought the city to a near standstill and resulted in thousands of deaths....
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London fog, 1952.
Titanic
Titanic, British luxury passenger liner that sank on April 14–15, 1912, during its maiden voyage, en route to New York City from Southampton, England, killing about 1,500 (see Researcher’s Note: Titanic) passengers and ship personnel. One of the most famous tragedies in modern history, it inspired...
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Titanic
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) of 2009
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) of 2009, the first major influenza outbreak in the 21st century, noted for its rapid global spread, which was facilitated by an unusually high degree of viral contagiousness. Global dissemination of the virus was further expedited by the unprecedented rates of passenger...
Encyclopedia / Accidents & Disasters
Doctors at the Mexico City Navy Hospital wearing protective gear as they tend to patients complaining of H1N1 flu-like symptoms.
Chernobyl disaster
Chernobyl disaster, accident in 1986 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the Soviet Union, the worst disaster in the history of nuclear power generation. The Chernobyl power station was situated at the settlement of Pryp’yat, 10 miles (16 km) northwest of the city of Chernobyl (Ukrainian:...
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Chernobyl disaster
Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Deepwater Horizon oil spill, largest marine oil spill in history, caused by an April 20, 2010, explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig—located in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 41 miles (66 km) off the coast of Louisiana—and its subsequent sinking on April 22. The Deepwater Horizon rig, owned...
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Deepwater Horizon oil spill: debris and oil
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina, tropical cyclone that struck the southeastern United States in late August 2005. The hurricane and its aftermath claimed more than 1,800 lives, and it ranked as the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. The storm that would later become Hurricane Katrina surfaced on August...
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Hurricane Katrina
Complex humanitarian emergency
Complex humanitarian emergency (CHE), type of disaster event that is caused by and results in a complicated set of social, medical, and often political circumstances, usually leading to great human suffering and death and requiring external assistance and aid. Complex humanitarian emergencies...
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Chile mine rescue of 2010
Chile mine rescue of 2010, rescue of 33 workers from the San Jose gold and copper mine on October 13, 2010, 69 days after the mine’s collapse on August 5. The mine, owned by the San Esteban Primera Mining Company, was located in the Atacama Desert of Chile, approximately 50 miles (80 km) northwest...
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Chile mine rescue of 2010: underground
Chile earthquake of 2010
Chile earthquake of 2010, severe earthquake that occurred on February 27, 2010, off the coast of south-central Chile, causing widespread damage on land and initiating a tsunami that devastated some coastal areas of the country. Together, the earthquake and tsunami were responsible for more than 500...
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Chile earthquake; Concepción
Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011
Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011, severe natural disaster that occurred in northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011. The event began with a powerful earthquake off the northeastern coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island, which caused widespread damage on land and initiated a series of large tsunami...
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earthquake damage, Honshu, Japan
Eastland disaster
Eastland disaster, capsizing of the passenger liner SS Eastland on the Chicago River in Chicago on July 24, 1915. The event, which claimed at least 844 lives, ranks as one of the worst maritime disasters in American history. It also is among the city’s deadliest catastrophes: hundreds more lives...
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SS Eastland
Great Famine
Great Famine, famine that occurred in Ireland in 1845–49 when the potato crop failed in successive years. The crop failures were caused by late blight, a disease that destroys both the leaves and the edible roots, or tubers, of the potato plant. The causative agent of late blight is the water mold...
Encyclopedia / Accidents & Disasters
Gillespie, Rowan: Famine

Accidents & Disasters Encyclopedia Articles

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