Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category

11/18/1987: A fire in King’s Cross underground station kills 30 commuters and injures scores of others.


11/17/1471: a storm in the North Sea batters the European coastline. Over the next several days, approximately 10,000 people in what is now the Netherlands died in the resulting floods.


11/14/1985: 25,000 lives were lost after the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia


“…..The worst scene of destruction was the city of Armero. The wave of mud, rock and ice was nearly 100 feet high as it barreled down on the city……”


11/12/2001: Two months after 9/11, American Airlines 587 out of JFK in NYC crashes into a Queens neighborhood right after takeoff, killing 265 people.


11/9/1872: A mammoth fire in Boston destroys hundreds of buildings and forced the establishment of an entirely new system of firefighting and prevention.


  • There was not enough water on hand to get the fire under control;
  • The hydrant system did not work well because much of the equipment was not standardized;
  • The height of the buildings and the narrowness of the streets made it difficult to direct whatever water was available at the blaze from the optimum angle.
  • A local equine epidemic had struck the city fire department’s horses making it difficult to get the fire engines to the correct locations at the right times.
  • Explosions were used to attempt fire breaks, but this high-risk strategy was not executed with enough precision and served only to further spread the fire.


On this day in 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge spectacularly collapses


“……Following the collapse, it was revealed that the engineers had not properly considered the aerodynamic forces that were in play at the location during a period of strong winds. At the time of construction, such forces were not commonly taken into consideration by engineers and designers…..”

Yellow fever earned New Orleans the nickname “Necropolis” — city of the dead.


How Yellow Fever Turned New Orleans Into The ‘City Of The Dead’

“…..Yellow fever didn’t just kill. It created an entire social structure based on who had survived the virus, who was likely to survive it and who was not long for this world. And that structure had everything to do with immigration and slavery….”

Yellow fever virus has three transmission cycles: jungle (sylvatic), intermediate (savannah), and urban.


11/3/1974: a guest staying on the sixth floor of a seven-story hotel falls asleep while smoking in bed causing a fire to rage out of control killing 88 and injuring another 30 people, mostly from a party on the 8th floor.




11/2/1982: A truck explodes in the Salang Tunnel in Afghanistan, killing an estimated 3,000 people, mostly Soviet soldiers.


“…… it is believed that an army vehicle collided with a fuel truck midway through the long tunnel. About 30 buses carrying soldiers were immediately blown up in the resulting explosion. Fire in the tunnel spread quickly as survivors began to panic. Believing the explosion to be part of an attack, the military stationed at both ends of the tunnel stopped traffic from exiting. As cars idled in the tunnel, the levels of carbon monoxide in the air increased drastically and the fire continued to spread…..”

All Saint’s Day, 1755: A series of 3 earthquakes + a 20′ tsunami hits Lisbon, Portugal, killing as many as 50,000 people

History Channel


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