Many of us aren’t aware of the serious outcome of the global lack of awareness when it comes to industries, so if you want to educate yourself on this matter read our list of 10 worst industrial disasters/accidents in the world.
Before the Industrial Revolution and the machines, agriculture was the main resource for people as well as handcrafting. Then the machines took over and the revolution began, changing people’s lives completely. It was a time of economic, technological, and cultural change that started in Britain but soon spread across the world. Factories were built and industries were developed. People left agriculture for factories and started working for a salary. The enormous changes that took place include the use of new materials such as steel and iron, the use of new energy sources, the steam machine, electricity, etc. Improvements in communication, as well as transportation, were significant, including the development of automobile, airplane, telegraph, and radio. All in all, the Industrial Revolution marked a new age, one of structure and divided labor that started spreading to other European countries.
Although it was considered as a huge step forward, the Industrial Revolution also brought major negative consequences that caused suffering and death. One of the gravest consequences of the industrial age is child labor. Since there were no law restrictions at the time that would regulate the new industries, factories hired children to work in the mines and factories full-time. This horrible practice caused countless deaths of children who worked up to 14 hours a day. It was the worse time to be a worker considering that if injured, the worker is immediately fired with no rights of any financial compensation while the government did nothing to help the poor. While cities grew and the economy boomed, the working-class neighborhoods were dirty and polluted, which was a good basis for the developing of countless diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis, typhus, etc. Medical treatment was rare, expensive, and would cause even more harm to patients as doctors were not skilled and still prone to using remedies from the Middle Age. There are countless other devastating effects of the Industrial revolution, many of which are visible even today.
Although the situation for workers has greatly improved since then, unfortunately, employees are still not always safe. Even today, when mankind has developed beyond belief, industries still cause much harm, and more often than not, people are still not protected enough from the hazardous industrial waste. Throughout the course of history, many devastating industrial accidents took place, causing the death of thousands of people. Nuclear accidents, Coal dust, gas explosions, and fires have killed so many people in the past and the madness hasn’t stopped yet. Even today, in the modern age where man has managed to control almost everything, industrial disasters are a serious threat. What is even more terrifying, we cannot even begin to fathom the long-term effects of these accidents.
We wrote about 11 Safest Places on Eart from Nuclear Fallout in one of our previous articles, and in this one, we draw attention to the worst industrial disasters/accidents in the world caused by men. In the spirit of remembering and raising awareness of the dangers of industrial accidents, we have collected a list of worst industrial disasters in the world relying on sources like Britannica and CBC News. We ranked them according to the number of casualties, from the lowest to the highest, although long-term consequences of many disasters are still unknown and they may turn out to be even deadlier that we could ever imagine. Take a look at our list of 10 worst industrial disasters/accidents in the world.
The worst nuclear disaster in Japan occurred not so long ago, on March 10, 2011. The Fukushima plant was struck by a by a tsunami which was a consequence of an earthquake. The tsunami damaged the power generators, and although they were successfully shut down, a series of explosions took place which led to the release of huge amounts of radioactive material. It took over a month to get things under control and people were evacuated from the area while some of them were injured, too.
The worst nuclear power plant disaster took place on April 26, 1986, in Chornobyl, Ukraine. 31 people were killed when a reactor exploded and caused a cloud of radioactivity that spread across Europe and the Soviet Union. The accident happened during a test at reactor number 4 when there was a sudden power surge which led to a series of explosions. As a consequence of the accident, radioactive fallout spread across a vast area. Long-term effects of the worst accident in the nuclear power plant industry are still unknown, but about 4,000 children born in 1986 had thyroid cancer. According to an estimation done by United Nations, the total number of casualties had risen to 56 in 2005, and UNSCEAR found that as of 2005, about 6,000 people were diagnosed with thyroid cancer and 15 of them died from the same cause, as a direct consequence of the accident. And now, let’s see what’s next on our list of worst industrial disasters/accidents in the world.
8. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
The industrial disaster in New York killed 146 and injured 71 workers on March 25, 1911, when a fire broke out and consumed the Triangle shirtwaist factory. The factory occupied the eight, ninth, and tenth floor, and many were unable to escape because the doors have been locked by the owner to prevent theft. This disaster triggered a mass movement in the United States as people requested safer working conditions.
7. Tianjin Explosions
One of the most recent industrial accidents occurred on August 12, 2015, in Tianjin, China. A series of explosions at a warehouse containing dangerous chemicals killed 173 people while hundreds of others were injured. The two explosions took place very fast, within 30 seconds of each other, but the second was larger detonating about 800 tons of ammonium nitrate. Fire, caused by the explosions, continued to burn for days and further caused several other explosions.
6. Texas City Disaster
One of the biggest disasters in the history of USA occurred on April 16, 1947, when a fire broke out on a ship taking about 600 lives. The ship was carrying bags of ammonium nitrate and when the fire broke out and killed all those people, another ship that was nearby exploded sixteen hours later, and even two planes flying at 1500 feet were knocked off. This caused a wave more than 15 high which destroyed the areas nearby. This domino-effect tragedy might have been prevented because it is believed that a cigarette could be the cause of it.
5. Oppau Explosion
One of the worst accidents on our list of 10 worst industrial disasters/accidents in the world occurred on September 21, 1921, in Germany in a place formerly known as Oppau (now Ludwigshafen). A tower silo with 4,500 tons of ammonium fertilizer exploded at the BASF plant in Oppau destroying almost 80% of all buildings in this place and killing about 600 people. A much greater number of people were injured, around 2,000 of them while 6,500 people were left homeless.
4. Coal Dust Explosion
One of the worst industrial disasters/accidents in the world occurred in France, in the Courrieres mine in 1906. More than a thousand people were killed and injured in an explosion, although the tragedy could have been prevented. Allegedly, smoke and toxic gas were reported in the mines in the days before the explosion occurred, but the work didn’t stop anyway. The search lasted for three days only and the remaining people trapped inside the mines were declared dead. However, a few survivors managed to get out of the mines twenty days after the explosion, according to Britannica.
3. Rana Plaza Collapse
One of the most tragic disasters that took 1,100 lives and injured 2,500 people took place on April 24, 2013, in Bangladesh. The tragedy occurred when the eight-storey Rana Plaza factory, which was dangerously built in the first place, collapsed. It was a garment factory and the event drew attention to the terrible working conditions in this country where a great number of brands produce their clothes. The event led to an increase in salaries afterward, as well as safety inspections. And now, let’s see the top two entries on our list of worst industrial disasters/accidents in the world.
2. The Benxy Disaster
Another deadly mining explosion occurred in April 1942 in a mine under Japanese control. More than 1,549 miners were killed when the gas exploded in the mines where many of the workers were prisoners of war forced to work in the mines. The shaft was closed in an attempt to limit the fire underground, but the mine wasn’t completely evacuated before that leaving many Chinese miners to suffocate inside. More people were killed after the explosion due to the production of carbon monoxide in the closed shaft. 10 days were necessary to take out all the corpses from the mine, and many were so burned that it was impossible to identify them.
1. Bhopal Explosion
The most terrifying industrial accident on our list of 10 worst industrial disasters/accidents in the world occurred on December 3, 1984, in Bhopal, India. About 45 tons of methyl isocyanate escaped from the Union Carbide plant and spread across the densely populated areas near the plant. It was a state of panic, while many were killed and thousands of others tried to escape. It is estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 people were killed while half a million of those who survived, suffered from blindness and respiratory problems.