Great Disasters

Great Disasters
Whether natural or man-made, disasters attract a strange mixture of horror and fascination. However, the spectacle of devastation is only ever one part of the story. Take a closer look, and you will find tales of extraordinary human endurance and heroi…

Hyatt Regency Skywalk Collapse
Jul 17 • 45 min
An evening of music and dancing turned into a gruesome scene of tragedy.
The Tulsa Race Massacre
Jun 28 • 67 min
It was America’s worst single incident of racial violence, yet for decades many had never even heard of it.
Herald of Free Enterprise
Jun 5 • 49 min
A crowded ferry sets sail from Zeebrugge, unaware that they are on course for tragedy.
Carrollton Bus Crash
May 22 • 51 min
An old yellow school bus full of kids met a pickup truck going the wrong way, with inevitably tragic results.
The Boston Molasses Flood
May 8 • 53 min
A wave of black, sticky molasses engulfs a Boston neighbourhood in one of history’s more unusual disasters.
Harrow & Wealdstone Rail Crash
Feb 7 • 41 min
An ordinary Wednesday morning commute turned into a deadly tragedy in Britain’s worst peacetime rail disaster.
The General Slocum
Jan 24 • 42 min
It was New York’s deadliest disaster for almost a hundred years - a church group outing which ended in fire and death.
The Victoria Hall Disaster
Jan 10 • 34 min
The magic show at the Victoria Hall was supposed to be the greatest treat ever given; it turned out to be the greatest tragedy.
Fukushima Daiichi
Dec 20, 2019 • 39 min
If the devastation of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami weren’t enough, the people of Japan now faced nuclear disaster.
2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami
Nov 29, 2019 • 36 min
The 2011 Tohoku earthquake was one of the biggest five earthquakes in history - and it devastated the coast of Japan.
Air New Zealand Flight 901
Nov 15, 2019 • 43 min
A luxurious sightseeing trip went horribly wrong - and ended on the side of an Antarctic mountain.
1931 China Floods
Nov 1, 2019 • 31 min
The Yangtze River is the third longest in the world - and when it breaks its banks, its power should not be underestimated.
Oct 18, 2019 • 32 min
It is perhaps the most famous volcano in the world - but the event it’s best known for happened almost two thousand years ago. So what is it about Mount Vesuvius that allows its story to endure?
Pearl Harbor
Oct 4, 2019 • 43 min
On December 7th, 1941, the peace and quiet of a lazy Sunday morning in Hawaii was interrupted by the onset of war.
Space Shuttle Columbia
Sep 20, 2019 • 45 min
Mission STS-107 was the 28th mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia - and the last.
The Carrington Event
Sep 6, 2019 • 30 min
In 1859, people around the world were astonished by a spectacular auroral display - but if it happened today, it could be disastrous.
The Sampoong Department Store Collapse
Jun 21, 2019 • 31 min
When a busy department store collapses with hundreds of people inside, the safety of the city depends on finding out why.
The Great Hunger, Ireland 1845-50
Jun 7, 2019 • 43 min
The Irish famine in the nineteenth century was a turning point in the country’s history - but what part did the potato really play?
The Princess Alice Disaster
May 24, 2019 • 39 min
Hundreds of people crowded aboard the pleasure steamer Princess Alice for a trip along the River Thames - but their happy day out would end in tragedy.
Chernobyl Part Two
May 10, 2019 • 46 min
Once the city of the future, Pripyat became a ghost town after the Chernobyl disaster.
Chernobyl Part One
Apr 26, 2019 • 39 min
In April 1986, Chernobyl became a name that would resonate with fear throughout the world.
Galveston Hurricane 1900
Apr 12, 2019 • 36 min
The people of Galveston thought that their city was safe from storms, but the devastating hurricane of 1900 proved them very wrong.
The Bradford City Stadium Fire
Mar 29, 2019 • 37 min
In front of television cameras, a deadly fire swept through the Valley Parade stadium with terrifying speed.
Haiti Earthquake 2010
Mar 15, 2019 • 30 min
Striking at the heart of a beautiful but impoverished country, the 2010 Haiti earthquake was the worst disaster the 21st century has so far seen.
The Flying Scotsman, 1947
Mar 1, 2019 • 34 min
The famous Flying Scotsman service was steaming along at some sixty miles per hour when calamity struck; it left the rails, killing 28 people.
Morecambe Bay Cocklepicking Disaster
Feb 15, 2019 • 33 min
They left China to try and make their fortune - but the gangmasters took their profits, and the tides took their lives.
The de Havilland Comet
Feb 1, 2019 • 26 min
Three deadly crashes involving the first commercial jet airliner revealed a deadly flaw in the plane’s design.
Piper Alpha
Jan 18, 2019 • 27 min
More than 200 men were aboard the Piper Alpha platform, 120 miles out at sea, when it was abruptly rocked by an explosion.
1955 Le Mans Crash
Jul 13, 2018 • 31 min
The disaster at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1955 marked the beginning of a slow revolution in safety for the fastest sport.
Apollo 1
Jul 1, 2018 • 31 min
In the race to set foot on the Moon, three men died on the Earth.
Seveso Chemical Disaster
Jun 15, 2018 • 33 min
A sunny Saturday in Italy was marred by a single cloud - one that came from the local chemical plant.
North Sea Floods 1953
Jun 1, 2018 • 25 min
One Saturday night at the end of January, a storm in the Atlantic wreaked havoc on the coasts of the UK and the continent.
The Goiânia Incident
May 18, 2018 • 30 min
They all thought that the blue glowing powdery stuff was pretty. Some painted their bodies with it, like carnival glitter. They didn’t know that it was deadly.
The Station Nightclub Fire
May 4, 2018 • 33 min
It was the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in American history, but what ultimately made the blaze at The Station so lethal?
Apr 20, 2018 • 34 min
Coal mining was always a dirty job, but somebody had to do it to keep the machines turning. For the men - and boys - of Monongah, it was more than dirty. It was deadly.
Mount Tambora
Apr 6, 2018 • 24 min
What has the weather in America or Switzerland got to do with a volcano in Indonesia?
Exercise Tiger
Mar 23, 2018 • 31 min
Around seven hundred American troops were killed in one night - but it was supposed to be only a practice run.
Everest Avalanche and Nepal Earthquake
Mar 9, 2018 • 29 min
A massive earthquake brought devastation to the people of Nepal and Western climbers on Mount Everest.
Feb 23, 2018 • 41 min
An enjoyable afternoon on the terraces turned tragic for Liverpool fans, as a deadly crush in the stands of Hillsborough Stadium took 96 lives.
San Francisco Earthquake 1906
Feb 9, 2018 • 27 min
Shortly after five am on the 18th April 1906, San Francisco was rudely awoken by a major earthquake.
The Spanish Flu
Jan 12, 2018 • 22 min
The flu pandemic of 1918 was an outbreak of unprecedented proportions - and it was deadly.
Air France 358
Dec 29, 2017 • 31 min
The crash of Air France 358 was called a miracle - for good reason.
The London Smog
Dec 15, 2017 • 20 min
The smog which fell over London in December 1952 wasn’t just bad weather - it was deadly.
The Sinking of the Titanic (Part One)
Dec 15, 2017 • 26 min
The sinking of the Titanic in 1912; one of the best known disasters in the world, but still one of the most tragic.
The Munich Olympics Massacre
Dec 15, 2017 • 29 min
The 1972 attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games captured the attention of the world.
The Sinking of the Titanic (Part Two)
Dec 15, 2017 • 28 min
The sinking of the Titanic in 1912; one of the best known disasters in the world, but still one of the most tragic.
Dec 8, 2017 • 11 min
What is it about disasters that makes us want to look?