Working together for a resilient Birmingham.

1st February – 7th 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.


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.


1 Feb 1974: Fire in high rise complex kills 227 people – At the Joelma Building, in Sao Paulo Brazil.

1 Feb 1991: US Air jetliner collides with a commuter plane on Los Angeles Airport runway killing 34 people.

1 Feb 2003: Columbia shuttle disintegrates killing seven – The US space shuttle Columbia broke up as it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere killing all seven astronauts on board.

Six of the seven astronauts were US citizens. They were Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown and female astronauts Laurel Clark and Indian-born Kalpana Chawla.
The seventh – fighter pilot Colonel Ilan Ramon – was Israel’s first astronaut and was carrying with him a miniature Torah scroll of a Holocaust survivor.

3 Feb 1998: Military jet causes cable car tragedy – NATO aircraft killed 20 people at an Italian ski resort by severing their cable car line.

All but one of the victims were foreign tourists – mainly German as well as Polish and Hungarian – travelling in a cable car 6,000 foot up Mount Cermis in the Dolomites. The accident took place at 1525 local time above the Cavalese resort near Trento.

5 Feb 1968: Trawler sinks – 18 dead – A trawler from Hull has sunk off the coast of Iceland, with all hands on board – it was the third in three weeks. The Ross Cleveland went down in Isafjord, an inlet on the north-west cape of Iceland, in a force 12 gale wind.

Over the previous three weeks 60 lives were lost on British fishing boats in Arctic waters as Iceland was battered by the worst storms since 1925.

6 Feb 1958: United players killed in air disaster – Seven Manchester United footballers known as the Busby Babes were among 21 dead after an air crash in Munich.

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