I’ve been trying to figure out how to catalog tragedies and disasters for the tragedies study I’m working on. I want to use my blog to help me keep track of them. That way I can use tags to help me sort them by months for future reference.
I’d like to do it weekly. Last week was a bit nuts and got away from me so I’m scrunching 10 days together in this inaugural tracking post.
May 3, 1962 - Trains collide near Tokyo: Two commuter trains and freight train collided. 160 people died. Double that was injured in the wreck.
May 4, 2002 – Nigerian plane crash in crowded city: An EAS airplane crashed in Kano, Nigeria. 148 people died. (All 76 passengers plus the remaining victims who were on the ground and burned to death in the resulting explosion.) Three full blocks of structures were destroyed.
May 4, 1886 – The Haymarket Square Riot: A labor rally turned deadly when a bomb was thrown at police trying to break it up. The police fired on the crowd. Several were killed. Over 100 were injured.
May 4, 1970 – National Guard Kills 4 at Kent State: National Guardsman fired on a group of anti-war demonstrators. 4 students killed, 8 wounded, another permanently paralyzed.
May 5, 1995 – Dallas Hail Storm: This surprise hail storm was the worst to hit the area in the century. Hail was the size of tennis balls to start. It was the flash flooding, not the hail, that left 17 dead, though. Interesting to note sentence from History.com entry: “Reportedly, items as large as frogs, worms and fruit have been swept up by updrafts and turned into hail.”
May 6, 1937 – Hindenburg Explosion: It was the largest dirigible ever built and 36 people died when it exploded near Lakehurst, New Jersey. But what made it iconic and significant was of the live radio broadcast of the event. There were 56 surivors.
On WLS radio, announcer Herbert Morrison gave an unforgettably harrowing live account of the disaster, “Oh, oh, oh. It’s burst into flames. Get out of the way, please . . . this is terrible . . . it’s burning, bursting into flames, and is falling . . . Oh! This is one of the worst . . . it’s a terrific sight . . .oh, the humanity.”
May 7, 1902 – Volcano buries Martinique city of Saint Pierre:Mount Pele started steaming on April 2, 1902. Residents ignored the warnings, thinking they only had to worry about lava. When it erupted, it burst out a cloud of gas with a temperature of more than 3,000 degrees and sent boiling ash down the side of the mountain. Saint Pierre was buried within minutes. Number of casualites was not specified on History.com article, but it was noted 2 people somehow survived. Also, 15 ships in the harbor capsized when the volcano exploded. One ship stayed afloat and half the crew survived, but had serious burns.
May 7, 1915 – Lusitania sinks: Without warning a German submarine torpedoed the British ocean liner Lusitania in the Celtic Sea. 1,959 passengers and crew were on board. 1,198 were drowned. Significant event during World War I.
May 8, 1950 – Flash floods in Nebraska kill 23: Most were caught by surprise and were trapped in their vehicles and drowned.
May 9, 2001 – Soccer stampede kills 126 in Ghana: Accra Stadium in Ghana. Police clash with rowdy fans, sparks a stampede. Was “the worst ever-sports-related disaster” in Africa at that time. (Um, I thought sporting events were spectator events? “Worst-ever sports-related disaster” should not be words that all go together.)
May 10, 1996 – Eight climbers die on Mount Everest during storm: It was the worse loss of life in a single day and sparked the bestselling book Into Thin Air. In total, 15 climbers died during the spring 1996 climbing season. (98 successfully completeed the climb that year.) From 1980 to 2002, 91 died attempting the climb.
May 11, 1934 – Dust storm sweeps from Great Plains to Eastern U.S.: Millions of tons of topsoil were swept from the Great Plains region to states in the East like New York, Boston and Atlanta. (Not sure if it was the start of the Dust Bowl time. April 15, 1935 came to be called “Black Sunday.”)
May 11, 1985 – 50 die in soccer stadium fire: Bradford, England. Fire was most likely started by a cigarete that ignited trash. Wooden roof over the stands caught fire. Some had no idea of the enormity of the situation. Reported some “danced and sang in front of the raging fire while others threw stones at a television crew.”
May 12, 1987 – Massive China wildfire claims 193 victims: The fire actually began on May 6, 1987 in Mohe County of the Heilongjiang Province. It was finally contained on this day, but didn’t totally burn out until May 27. It burned 2 1/2 million acres of land, destroyed 50,000 homes, hundreds were injured, and 193 people perished.
May 13, 1846 – Polk declares war on Mexico: Not quite a “disaster” but a significant event.
May 13, 1981 – Pope John Paul II shot: Again, not quite a “disaster” but a significant event worth noting.
May 13, 1972 – Club fire in Japan kills 118: The Playtown Cabaret in Osaka, Japan caught fire. Only 48 survived.