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15 Places Where The Worst Engineering Disasters Of All Time Took Place

By Nitin Bhatnagar, 30 June 2018

The modern day infrastructure is the result of some really wonderful engineering showcased by engineers of the modern world. We have been touching new heights in terms of technology advancement and constantly coming up with inventions which are making our lives comfortable. This advancement is making even those events possible which appeared to be impossible at one point of time in the past.

However, we should not forget that the engineers are also humans and they can also make mistakes. The only difference is that the mistakes made by them can be very harmful for mankind and we are going to tell you about 15 such mistakes which can be, in fact, called disasters.

1Quebec Bridge

Quebec Bridge, which is also called Pont de Québec in French, is the world’s longest ever cantilever bridge. It may have been listed in the National Historic Site of Canada in 1995 but it has a very dark past. The project which took more than 30 years to complete has failed two times and took lives of 88 people. It was on 29th August 1907 that it collapsed for the first time and for the second time, it collapsed on 11th September 1916. $22 million was the total cost of damage.

Quebec Bridge

Image Source: legionmagazine.com

2The Bhopal gas tragedy

The Bhopal gas tragedy or the Bhopal disaster took place on the night of 2-3 December 1984 at Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. Due to this gas leak incident, more than 500,000 people came in contact of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas which is highly toxic and harmful. The reason for the disaster is said to be poor maintenance of MIC tank and it is said that around 8,000 people lost their lives just in two weeks after the leakage while 8,000 individuals have lost their lives since then due to gas related diseases. The effects of the unfortunate incident are still visible on the present generation.

The Bhopal gas tragedy

Image Source: www.livemint.com


Huge claims were made regarding RMS Titanic even before it set for its first journey. The quote “practically unsinkable” was used for this grand liner which struck an iceberg on 14th April 1912 during the journey and this collision became the reason of its sinking. 1514 passenger lost their lives while 705 were lucky enough to be rescued by Carpathia. After investigations, it was found that there were material failures and many design faults in the ship.


Image Source: ytimg.com

4The Hindenburg airship disaster

This German LZ-129 Hindenburg airship disaster brought an end to the airship travel as it was the most technologically advanced airship ever built. It was also the largest commercial airship which was very huge and its size was three times of Boeing 747. The airship which had a top speed of 84 mph burnt into smoke on 6th May 1937 in the sky over the American city of New Jersey. It fell on the ground and took a minute to burn completely. 62 passengers survived as they jumped from dozens of feet while the airship was falling but 36 casualties still took place. The reason for the accident is said to be hydrogen gas leak which becomes a highly inflammable mixture after mixing with oxygen.

The Hindenburg airship disaster

Image Source: www.gannett-cdn.com

5The Tacoma Bridge collapse

Built in the 1930s in Washington, USA, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge had a total length of 1810 meters. It was the first suspension bridge of the state and the third longest of the world at that time. It was opened for public on 1st July 1940, and some issues were there from the very beginning but they were not given importance and ignored. On 7th Nov 1940, the bridge oscillated a lot due to heavy winds of 40 mph and collapsed. After the investigation, it was found that the bridge was defenseless against the vibrations generated by winds and that was the reason of its collapse.

The Tacoma Bridge collapse

Image Source: amazing.zone

6Failure of Banqiao Dam

In 1952, Banqiao Dam which was also called “Iron Dam” was built on River Ru in Henan province, China. This dam was considered as unbreakable but a famous hydrologist Chen Xing thought otherwise and warned the government against the overbuilding of dams and reservoirs because it will increase water levels above the prescribed safe levels and the result will be huge destruction.

Chen’s warning was not taken seriously but in August 1975, Banqiao Dam tumbled and as per an estimate, nearly 1,71,000 to 2,30,000 people lost their lives while 11 million were compelled to run to other places. This disaster caused an economic loss of around $1.6 billion.

Failure of Banqiao Dam

Image Source: alchetron.com

7The collapse of South Fork Dam

South Fork Dam was built on Lake Conemaugh, 8 miles east of Johnstown which was famous for its steel production and was a flourishing town situated in the central Pennsylvania, USA. South Fork Dam was not maintained as it should have been and was not strong enough to handle the pressure exerted by the water of the lake. On May 31, 1889, it rained heavily and the pressure increased to such a level that the dam toppled and resulted in 2209 fatalities. This flood was known as “Great Flood of 1889” as well as “Johnstown flood” in which property worth $17 million was damaged.

The collapse of South Fork Dam

Image Source: post-gazette.com

8The Chernobyl nuclear disaster

A nuclear accident took place at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Pripyat, Ukraine, on 26th April 1986 and huge amount of radioactive material got released in the atmosphere. 62 people lost their lives immediately after the explosion which happened due to poorly conducted experiment while it is being said that around 4000-9000 people have lost their lives since then. The town of Pripyat was evacuated the next day and it is abandoned till date.

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster

Image Source: themillenniumreport.com

9The collapse of Hyatt Regency hotel walkway

On 17th July 1981, an accident took place in the Hyatt Regency hotel situated in Kansas City in Missouri because of which 114 people lost their lives while 216 were left injured. On that day, there was a tea dance party and more than 1600 people were present there when two adjacent walkways fell down in the lobby. The accident was a result of poor engineering and general negligence. The licenses of the engineers who approved the final drawings were cancelled.

The collapse of Hyatt Regency hotel walkway

Image Source: media.keepo.me

10Space Shuttle Challenger disaster

Challenger, NASA’s space shuttle, was on its tenth flight but merely after 73 seconds of lift-off, it blasted. The sad incident took place on 28th January 1986 with 5 astronauts and 2 payload specialists losing their lives. The entire tragic incident was shown live on TV and after this, NASA decided to put its complete space mission on hold.

Space Shuttle Challenger disaster

Image Source: www.arabmaze.com


Skylab was the world’s first successful space station which was launched by NASA in 1973. Huge amount of data was collected by the space station which also included 175,000 solar images. It also collected information regarding biological effect of living in space for a very long time period. The space station was abandoned by NASA in 1974 and its orbit started getting destroying earlier than anticipated by NASA. After five years, in 1979, it started falling back and its debris fell on Australia and Indian Ocean. Skylab was designed to go up but not to come down.


Image Source: kommersant.ru

12Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

The unfortunate incident took place on 20th April 2010 when methane gas started leaking and it caught fire and exploded which lead to the sinking of Deepwater Horizon in the morning of 22nd April. As per the reports, 102,000 birds, 25,900 sea mammals, 6,165 sea-turtles and a billion of newly hatched fish were harmed in this tragedy. What’s more, the property worth $61.60 billion was also damaged.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Image Source: www.slate.com

13The collapse of Rana Plaza, Dhaka

It can be easily called one of the worst industrial disasters as approximately 1134 people lost their lives while around 2500 got injured. It was a five-storey building located in Savar Upazila of Dhaka District in Bangladesh. The building had clothing factories, several apartments, bank and many shops but on 24th April 2013, the building collapsed and only the ground floor remained undamaged. Maximum victims were women and kids and the reasons behind the collapse were really disgusting. The land on which the building was built was a filled-in pond, three floors were built without permission and the material used for construction was also substandard. It was an invitation to disaster and it actually happened.

The collapse of Rana Plaza, Dhaka

Image Source: wikimedia.org

14The collapse of Charles de Gaulle Airport

Roissy Airport or Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris, is the largest international airport in France and the second largest in Europe. It was inaugurated on 23rd May 2004 but few months later, the terminal 2E got collapsed. This incident took lives of four people and three were left injured. On investigation, it was revealed that the roof was not as strong as it was needed for holding the pillars. It was reopened on 30th March 2008.

The collapse of Charles de Gaulle Airport

Image Source: www.abc.net.au

15 The fall of Lotus Riverside Complex

It was a residential apartment complex located in Shanghai, China, which tumbled down on 27th June 2009. It is being said that the reason of its collapse was a garage which was built by removing a good area of land and dumping the mud to the other side of the building. As per the final report, there was some fault in the designs and material used for the construction was also not up to the mark.

The fall of Lotus Riverside Complex

Image Source: wikispaces.com

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