February 2003 Disasters

  • Feb. 1, Tex.: The Columbia Space Shuttle, on its 28th mission, broke up as it reentered Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven crew members. They were: Rick D. Husband, William C. McCool, Michael P. Anderson, David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, and Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon. Communications with the shuttle were lost at 9 A.M. EST. Debris from the shuttle was found across east Texas and in parts of Louisiana. Foam insulation fell during takeoff damaging the left wing and allowing hot gases to enter the spaceship during re-entry.
  • Feb. 17, Chicago, Ill.: In an early morning fatal stampede from the second floor of a Chicago night club, 21 people were trampled. The club had numerous building code violations.
  • Feb. 14–18, eastern U.S.: The President's Day blizzard moved through the Midwest and up the East coast of the U.S. burying cities in record snowfall amounts, stranding travelers, and costing millions in cleanup and lost revenues. The storm claimed the lives of 42 people. It was the worst snowstorm for the region since the Blizzard of 1996..
  • Feb. 18, Daegu, South Korea: A subway fire started by an arsonist, who ignited a box filled with gasoline, raced through 2 trains, killing at least 189 people and injuring more than 140.
  • Feb. 19, southern Iran: An Iranian military airplane carrying members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards crashed in the Sirach Mountains of southeastern Iran en route to Kerman. All 276 on board were killed, making this Iran's worst air disaster.
  • Feb. 20, West Warwick, R.I.: A fire, caused by a pyrotechnics display, engulfed a Rhode Island nightclub, The Station, killing 100 and injuring more than 150.
  • Feb. 24, Xinjiang province, China: An earthquake, magnitude 6.4, struck the western edge of Xinjiang province in the far northwest of China early in the morning (02:03:44 UTC), killing more than 260 people and injuring more than 2,000. Thousands of homes and hundreds other buildings were destroyed. This area is populated mostly by the Uighur ethnic minority, most of whom are Muslim. Earthquakes are frequent in this area, though none has been this devastating.
  • Feb. 25, south-central U.S.: Snow and freezing rain in the south-central states caused the deaths of at least 14 people and closed highways across the region. The storm moved eastward causing widespread electrical outages and 2 more deaths.
  • Feb., Congo: An ebola outbreak in the Congo took a toll of 75 people.

See also Major Earthquakes Around the World 2003

See also Recent Volcanic Activity