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15 February – 21 February in history

Thankfully major emergencies are relatively rare. However, they do occur and if we are to avoid the mistakes of the past it is important to learn the lessons of history.

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The safety of: football stadia; entertainment events; journeys by rail, air and sea transport; and many other aspects of daily life has dramatically improved because we have learnt from the disasters of the past.  This will include everything from the designing out of much of the risk (e.g. aircraft construction) through to the ability of the emergency services and other agencies to work more effectively when an emergency does occur.

Our ‘this week in history’ feature contains disasters and tragedies that have occurred across the world from 1950 to 2009.  As the website develops, we will increasingly link these events to the lessons learned and recommendations included in public reports and enquiries.

 

15 Feb 1961: Belgian jet crashes seconds before landing – 73 people were killed after a Boeing 707 jet airliner crashed at Berg, near Brussels airport, just before it was due to land. The Sabena Airlines plane exploded as it hit the ground. The 73 victims included 11 crew and a man working in a field where the plane came down.
Most of the passengers were American. They included 17 members of the United States figure-skating team who were on their way to Prague, Czechoslovakia, to take part in the world championships the following week.

15 Feb 1974: No hope of survivors from missing Gaul trawler – The Gaul and its 36-man crew vanished in a force ten gale 70 miles (112km) north of Norway believed to be killed. No mayday signal was issued, the Gaul was fitted with the latest technology to deal with harsh conditions in the Arctic, including modern radio equipment and a dual-power system. The Gaul was even nicknamed “the Unsinkable” when it set sail from Hull on 22 January.

15 Feb 2004: Roof collapsed into swimming pool complex in Moscow, Russia killing 20 and injuring 100+.

16 Feb 1980: Euston-Manchester train derailed by broken rail at Bushey injuring 48 people.

17 Feb 1959: Turkish leader involved in fatal crash – Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes survived an air crash near London that killed 12 people. Mr Menderes was on his way to London for talks on Cyprus with the British, Greek and Cypriot premiers when his Viscount jet crashed in Jordan’s Wood, near Newdigate in Surrey. Only 10 of the 22 passengers and crew on board the Turkish Government aircraft survived and two were critically injured.

17 Feb 2003:  Stampede to escape a Chicago night-club in USA after security guards tried to break up a fight by firing pepper spray causing death of 21 people and injuring over 50 others.

18 Feb 1991: IRA bomb exploded on Victoria station concourse in the morning rush hour killing 1 person injuring 38 others.

18 Feb 2003: Underground train fire in Daegu – South Korea. Kim Dae Han, a man with a history of mental illness set fire to a crowded underground train. causing death of 120 people and injuries to at least 136 others.

18 Feb 2004: Freight wagons carrying petrol, sulphur, fertiliser and cotton wool rolled unmanned away from station and derailed at Neyshabur, Tehran – Iran.  Fire-fighters almost had fire under control when explosion occurred causing over 300 deaths and over 200 more were injured.

20 Feb 2003: Fire swept  through a night-club in Rhode Island USA after rock band’s pyrotechnic display killing 85 with over 160 casualties.

21 Feb 2001: Ban follows foot-and-mouth outbreak – The European Commission banned all British milk, meat and livestock exports following the UK’s first outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease for 20 years. The ban – which was due to run until 1 March – follows revelation of a foot-and-mouth outbreak at an abattoir near Brentwood, Essex.

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