Dozens of people were killed and injured when London's Grenfell Tower went up in flames last year. The fire spread under dangerous ornamental cladding designed to make the aging structure, which lacked sprinkers, look modern. The BBC made a set of graphics to show the terrible speed of the blaze, which leapt up through 20 apartments within 10 minutes.
A resident of flat 195 on the 22nd floor called emergency services to describe smelling smoke, but was advised to "stay inside and keep your door and windows shut".
They kept telling them to stay put for nearly two hours. 72 dead. Read the rest
The Yakima Herald posted this video, shot by Steven Mack, of a growing fissue on Rattlesnake Ridge near Yakima, Wa.
I-82, seen in the footage, is only threatened in "less likely scenarios." The county has pre-emptively declared an official disaster.
The city of Union Gap also declared a disaster, allowing officials to request the help they'll need when the hillside comes down.
The big question remains "When will the slide happen?" State geologists now say they don't expect a landslide event until sometime between late January and early March.
"The honest answer is no one knows for certain. There are a number of possibilities. The most likely scenario is that the landslide will continue to slowly move to the south, where the landslide mass will fall into the quarry pit and accumulate. Monitoring data suggests most of the mass will remain in the pit and on the hillside," the Washington state Department of Natural Resources said on its website.
I've roughly marked the hill that's coming down on this google maps image. Most of it will just fill the quarry you see to the bottom right, apparently.
My favorite air disaster documentarian, Allec Joshua Ibay, recreated last month's SFO taxiway near-miss, complete with real radio traffic. I skipped the scene-setting in the above embed: an inbound pilot mistaking a taxiway, with a bunch of loaded planes on it, for the runway. Read the rest
Bus breaks down on the way to the wedding? No problem. Power outage at the reception? The bride did not care. A string of unfortunate events attempted to derail a Virginia bride's big day, but nothing was getting in the way of her happiness. Read the rest
Malaysia Airlines flight #MH370 pitched somewhere in the vast oceans west of Australia three years ago, the only evidence washing ashore thousands of miles away. The search for its remains, and those of hundreds of missing passengers and crew, has been called off.
Families of the victims of flight MH370 say a decision to halt the search for the Malaysian airliner that vanished in March 2014 is "irresponsible". ... More than 120,000 sq km (46,300 miles) of the Indian Ocean has been searched with no results. Pieces of debris have been found as far away as Madagascar. But only seven have been identified as definitely or highly likely to be from the Boeing 777.
It's 2017 and they still dress airline pilots up like commodores and let them turn off the transponders. Read the rest
Allec Joshua Ibay's flight sim recreation of United Airlines Flight 232's loss of all flight controls doesn't skip a second. The unadorned, tick-tock quality of the video makes it surprisingly gripping, not least because of the incredible solution the crew found to their predicament: controlling the plane entirely by raising and lowering thrust from the engines. Even then, they couldn't turn left at all, meaning the slightest overturn right would require an entire 360-degree swoop to get back on target.
Then they had to land it. Read the rest
A UK inquest determined Tuesday that the Hillsborough disaster, a 1989 stadium crowd crush that claimed 96 lives, was the fault of police. The jury's verdict follows decades of tabloid lies and police cover-ups that began immediately after the incident in Sheffield, England, attempting to blame the victims for their own deaths.
After a 27-year campaign by victims' families, the behaviour of Liverpool fans was exonerated. The jury found they did not contribute to the danger unfolding at the turnstiles at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday's ground on 15 April 1989. Nine jurors reached unanimous decisions on all but one of the 14 questions at the inquests into Britain's worst sporting disaster. The coroner Sir John Goldring said he would accept a majority decision about whether the fans were unlawfully killed - seven jurors agreed they were.
The incident, at a huge and decrepit stadium, saw countless fans admitted by police to a standing-only zone with few points of escape. As the situation worsened, according to the jury's verdict, police failed to open gates, caused the crush on the terraces, responded slowly to the emergency, and exacerbated it through their actions.
In the aftermath, police blamed fans and stonewalled the first inquiry, which forced changes to stadiums but lacked the remit to condemn the authorities. Here's how the UK's largest-circulation daily tabloid, The Sun, reported the incident (with its decades-late apology on the right.)
As part of the verdict, police Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield was held "responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence."
The video above shows the horror of the crush in still images. Read the rest
Tarpaulins are critical supplies for disaster relief and humanitarian aid, serving as cover, shelter, carpet and all-round utility infielder. Read the rest
This giant hole is the result of water flowing into a salt mine in Russia. When the soil started shifting in 2005, the government shut off power to the area to encourage residents to leave.
On Tuesday, the mines were evacuated due to shifting earth, and the hole opened up on Tuesday evening. Russian authorities are studying the scene and performing air quality tests to determine whether noxious gasses are being released.
A farm in Ronchi di Termeno, Italy, was nearly squashed by titanic boulders that rumbled off nearby mountains in a landslide. One of them destroyed the barn, while another stopped a whisker shy of the farmhouse itself. The furrows the boulders cut through the fields are straight out of a golden age DC comic.
(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
(Images: downsized, cropped thumbnails of photos from the Associated Press) Read the rest
This is a photo of the Chernobyl "Elephant's Foot", a solid mass made of a little melted nuclear fuel mixed with lots and lots of concrete, sand, and core sealing material that the fuel had melted through. The photo was taken in 1996. At that point, the Elephant's Foot had cooled enough that a human being could stand directly in front of it for an hour before receiving a lethal dose of radiation. When the Foot was first discovered, shortly after the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl power plant, it delivered a lethal dose in just five minutes. You can read Kyle Hill's interesting history of the Elephant's Foot at Nautilus. And be sure to check out this 1991 video that shows how people were able to rig up robotic camera systems to safely take photos of the thing (though, as Hill points out, not all the photos of Elephant's Foot were taken safely). Read the rest
A couple of weeks ago, I posted about a story I'd written on the socio-cultural systems that underly natural disasters — how the way we think, and build, and think about buildings affects who dies and who doesn't. If you'd like to dig into that a bit deeper, Andy Revkin recently pointed me toward several stories he's written at the Dot Earth blog, about designing safety systems, buildings, and cities in ways that allow them to better stand up to the threat of a tornado. Read the rest