Five Most Bizarre Accidents From The Past

Goiânia Accident

The Goiânia accident was a radioactive contamination accident that occurred on 13 September, 1987, at Goiânia, Brazil. Considered one of the worst nuclear disasters in history, it took place after an old nuclear medicine source was scavenged from an abandoned hospital site in the city, which serves as capital of the central Brazilian state of Goiás. It was subsequently handled by many people, resulting in four deaths and the serious radioactive contamination of 249 other people. The dispersal of radiation was equivalent to a medium-size dirty bomb. About 130,000 people overwhelmed hospitals. Of those, 250 people, some with radioactive residue still on their skin, were found to be contaminated through the use of Geiger counters. Topsoil had to be removed from several sites, and several houses were demolished. All the objects from within those houses were removed and examined. Those that were found to be free of radioactivity were wrapped in plastic bags, while those that were contaminated were either decontaminated or disposed of as waste.

London Beer Flood

On October 16, 1814, a vat of beer at London’s Meux and Company Brewery cracked open. Beer gushed out, causing yet another vat to open. The result was 550,000 gallons (or 4.4 million pints) of beer pouring through the streets of London. The wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub, trapping teenaged employee Eleanor Cooper under the rubble. The brewery was located among the poor houses and tenements of the St Giles Rookery, where whole families lived in basement rooms that quickly filled with beer. Eight people drowned in the flood. The disaster was ruled to be an act of God.

The Ball of Burning Men

On January 28, 1393, King Charles VI of France hosted a ball to celebrate the marriage of Queen Isabeau’s maid of honor. Charles had the brilliant idea to have himself and five of his friends disguise themselves as savages. The idea took a strange turn when the men decided to cover themselves with pitch and feathers. Remember, pitch is very flammable and the primary sources of light indoors at the time were torches.

The men entered the ball disguised this way and chained together. A horrible accident occurred when a man approached them with a torch so that he could get a better look. The men went up in flames immediately. The king was saved by Jeanne de Boulogne, who threw her petticoats over him to put out the blaze. One other of the men was able to throw himself into a vat of water. The other victims of this strange accident were not so lucky. Two burned alive that night at the ball. The other two died within days from their injuries.

Boston Molasses Disaster

On January 15, 1919, a tank of molasses exploded in Boston’s North End. The explosion caused a huge shockwave that was sufficient to knock houses off their foundations. Shards of metal from the tank were found up to 200 ft. away. Right after the explosion this accident took a very strange turn.

The tank was filled with 2.3 million gallons of molasses. When the tank exploded, the molasses formed a 25-30 ft. wave, that went through the streets of Boston at speeds of around 35 mph. People caught in the wave were either smashed against large objects, or they drowned in the molasses. This strange accident caused 21 deaths and 150 injuries. Rumor has it that, on a hot day in the North End, the air still smells sweet.

Sidoarjo Mud Flow

In May, 2006, while drilling for gas in East Java, Indonesia, company PT Lapindo Brantas caused a mud volcano to erupt. By September, 2006, the hot mudflow had inundated rice paddies and villages, resulting in the displacement of more than 11,000 people from eight villages. Twenty-five factories had to be abandoned, and fish and shrimp ponds were destroyed. Transportation and power transmission infrastructure has been damaged extensively in the area. The mud flow is still ongoing at a rate of 100,000 m3 per day, at time of writing. A study has found that the mud volcano is collapsing under its own weight, possibly beginning caldera formation. It is expected that the flow will continue for at least another 30 years.


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