Man-made Disasters

Manmade disasters
Man-made Disasters
Poor oversight and safety precautions led to this tragic factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2013.

If natural disasters were not enough, humans have contributed their own share of catastrophic accidents. As new technology develops, unseen risks or improper precautions can result in tragedy. Even when every safety measure is taken, extreme weather can lead to disastrous consequences. Upon the invention of trains, we had train derailments. Upon splitting the atom, we had nuclear disasters. Learn about some of the most (and least) common man-made disasters, some historical examples, and how we try and prevent them.

Industrial Accidents

Mines, factories, and other industrial centers have been at the heart of some of history's worst accidents. These places can contain volatile materials, or undergo immense structural stress due to the labor conducted there. In worst case scenarios, these sites can suffer from explosions or collapses, leading to loss of life and potential environmental damage.

Worst Industrial Accidents in History

Fires and Explosions

Oil Spills

Oil Spills and Disasters Timeline

Oil Spill Glossary

2010 Gulf Oil Spill Timeline

Largest Oil Spills in the World


Fatal Mining Accidents in the U.S.


Transportation Accidents

Anyone who's driven a car knows that getting from point A to point B can sometimes be dangerous. Errors in judgement, minor technical malfunctions, and even the interference of animals can cause serious problems. When these problems occur with mass transit vehicles like trains, those problems can be disastrous. 

Railroad Accidents

Aircraft Crashes

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Space Accidents

Mysterious Disappearances

Shipwrecks Since 1833

Submarine Accidents

Ten Largest Oil Spills in the U.S.

Ten Largest Oil Spills in the World

Worst Industrial Accidents in History

Nuclear & Chemical Disasters

Though they've been infrequent since the discovery of nuclear fission in the 1930s, there have been a few instances where attempts to harness nuclear power have gone horribly awry. These disasters can leave miles of land uninhabitable for decades, or even centuries. Leaks of dangerous chemicals can have a similar effect, though these are generally less severe. 

Nuclear and Chemical Accidents

Chernobyl: 25 Years Later

Nuclear Disaster Glossary

2011 Nuclear Crisis in Japan

Japan in 2012, One Year Later



Acts of terror stick out from the rest of this page as they are the result of deliberate, politically-motivated aggression and violence. However, we've included them on this page as the worst terror attacks deserve no lesser word than "disaster." We have featured here some notable terrorist actions of the last decades. You can find more info on important terrorist acts under our Current Events.

The 2013 Boston Marathon Tragedy

Terrorist Attacks

Terrorist Attacks in the U.S.

September 11, 2001: Timeline of Terrorism

Terrorist Acts Suspected of or Inspired by al-Qaeda


Sports Disasters

Though substantially more niche than the other categories, sporting events can be unfortunately ripe for tragedy. With many people packed into tight areas, and huge amounts of movement and commotion, disaster has befallen a non-trivial number of races, games, and more.

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