Every year in the world, many people are killed and affected by natural disasters such as earthquakes, cyclones, floods, droughts and fires. However, beyond these, man-made disasters often cause extensive damage. Thousands of people have lost their lives in these terrible man-made disasters. There are numerous examples of this in history. Let’s know about some such man-made disasters.
Towards the end of April 1986, a catastrophic explosion occurred in a reactor at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine. At least 31 people were killed instantly and strong radioactive fallout spread over a wide area. And after being affected by it, thousands of people were affected by various diseases. Within hours, nuclear radiation levels reached life-threatening levels in Pripyat, the nearest town to the power plant. But 40 thousand people of that city were not informed about this. All they knew was that there had been a fire at the nuclear plant. Evacuation of the city’s residents began 36 hours later. Another 30,000 people were evacuated from surrounding towns and villages over the next week. Hundreds of them died over the next three months.
Radioactive smoke drifted with the wind towards northern Ukraine and Belarus. In the months that followed, thousands of people in the region were diagnosed with thyroid cancer. First, evacuations began within ten miles of the power plant. Chemical engineer Sergei Mirney, head of the observation team, visited Chernobyl in July of that year. Radioactive fumes from the nuclear reactor still permeate the air. Not only that, radioactive material is also spreading into the base of the reactor. After that, the soil of the nuclear power plant is dug up and put into the pit and covered with concrete. Radioactive contamination appears to be much higher than previously thought. As the head of the monitoring unit, Sergei reported on the pollution of the 30 km area. Based on his report, the authorities ordered everyone to leave the area and evacuate. After the villagers were evacuated, their houses were demolished and buried up to the bricks. An area of up to 30 kilometers around Chernobyl is still a restricted area.
On the night of December 2, 1984 in Bhopal, India, an underground storage tank of the US-owned Union Carbide pesticide factory burst, releasing 40 tons of toxic gas methyl isocyanate. YP Gokhel, managing director of Union Carbide India, said that when a valve in the tank broke due to excessive pressure, gas started coming out from inside. The densely populated city of Bhopal with more than 9 lakh inhabitants has spread in the sky.
About 5 lakh people fell under that gas. Thousands of people lost their lives. At least 3,000 people lost their lives in the first 24 hours after a toxic gas leak occurred at the Union Carbide Chemicals plant in Bhopal. More than 8 thousand people died in 72 hours. In the months that followed, tens of thousands more lost their lives. Thousands are left with life-long disabilities from severe pneumonia. The Indian government claims that a total of 5,000 people have died from toxic gas. But according to non-governmental organizations, the death toll in this accident is more than 20,000.
Exxon Valdez oil spill
Prince William, Alaska, USA and its surrounding area is home to marine fish, countless species of birds and aquatic animals. The area is one of the sources of income for local fishermen. But after March 24, 1989, life here changed forever. Because the area was hit by a terrible man-made disaster. Crude oil spilled from the Exxon Valdez oil tanker in Prince William Sound. The incident started on March 24 around 12 noon. Exxon Valdez is a supertanker long beach ship owned by the American Exxon Shipping Company. It hits Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, California. As a result, crude oil was spilled from oil tankers. 41 million liters or 11 million gallons of oil spilled into the ocean. Later, 10.8 million gallons of oil spilled in a few days. As a result, sea water becomes toxic and marine animals die. Thousands of birds, hundreds of sea turtles and eagles died in the disaster.
On December 6, 1917, a disaster occurred in the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia. One of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history resulted from a collision between the Norwegian ship SS Emo and the French steamship SS Mont Blanc. However, before this a warning signal was given from the ship Mount Blanc due to danger. But the collision could not be prevented as the two ships were too close. The ship Mont Blanc was carrying 2,935 tons of explosives. As a result of the collision, the ship quickly burst into flames and exploded with a loud noise. As a result, a huge tidal wave was created on the sea surface and hit a wide area along the coast. An area 800 meters north of the Halifax beach was heavily damaged. The two ships were destroyed in the explosion. The vegetation along the shore was broken and Halifax Harbor was reduced to rubble. About 2,000 people were killed and 9,000 were injured that day.
The Great Smog
In December 1952, London, United Kingdom, faced a major disaster. Thousands of people died in just one week due to the terrible air pollution. The disaster is known as The Great Smog. London’s skies had never been so dark. It seemed as if someone had covered the entire city with a thick black sheet. London became a death pit. Coal was the main source of energy in Britain at that time. And this situation was created by the thick fog of winter mixed with the coal burning smoke. The entire city is covered in polluted air. People have never seen such terrible smog in the history of memory.
Dr. Brian Commins then worked as a chemist. He is considered to be the pioneer of air pollution research in the country. He said that at least 100,000 people fell ill due to this pollution in London. Due to the industrial pollution then, many people suffered from bronchitis or inflammation of the airways. Smoking was also a factor. And for these sick people such polluted air becomes dangerous. Those who had asthma or breathing problems or those with heart disease also suffered greatly as a result. Children and elderly people also suffered due to this pollution. People who were sick and dying at the time, the cause of death was being described as heart failure or acute bronchitis. But the doctors knew that the polluted air of London at that time was actually the cause of this death. Brian Cummins claims that at least 10,000 people died that year due to the smog.
References: BBC, Britannica, Discover Magazine