“When a disaster strikes, the time to prepare has passed.”- Steven Cyros

Everyone works to earn and live a happy and prosperous life. But, thousands of workers die every year while working at big and dangerous industrial units risking their life. Industrial accidents are man-made disasters that cause damage to life and property. Along with the loss of life, these accidents cause huge damage to the natural surroundings polluting the environment.

There are several reasons behind industrial disasters like mishandling dangerous equipment, mechanical or technical failure etc. History has been a witness of some severe and worst man-made industrial disasters ever.


We have listed the top 10 worst Industrial disasters that ever took place in the world:-


10. The deadly gas leak of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy in 1984- Bhopal disaster is also known as the Bhopal gas tragedy where a deadly gas leak took place on a December night in 1984. More than 500,000 people came into contact with 30 tonnes of leaked methyl isocyanate from the union carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal. The infectious gas was diffused in the crowded streets of the small town.

The casualties were approximately 2,000. The main cause behind the disaster was the violation of safety norms by overstuffing the gas tank that leaked at night. There was a negative effect on trees, natural surroundings, thousands were dead, injured and resulted in a record stillbirth. At that time doctors were not aware of any accurate treatment for treating thousands of incoming patients affected by a gas leak. The horrifying pictures portraying the aftermath of the leak shook the world.


9. Three mile Island tragedy in 1979- The three-mile island disaster was a nuclear power plant accident in Pennsylvania. There were no official casualties but many studies have reported that there were a high number of cancer and birth defect cases that are not normal.

It also halted the nuclear advancement plans of the USA for 30 years because other projects were curtailed. The cause behind the radioactive leak was a malfunctioning of cooling of primary coolant that was left undetected by technicians. The authorities decontaminated the site, still there remains an undetected amount of radioactive material. 

Also read: Top 10 Most Dangerous Natural Disasters

8. Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011- The most powerful 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in Japan initiated a major industrial disaster in Japan. That strong earthquake nearly shifted the earth from its axis. The gigantic waves by the tsunami flooded with reactors and caused a major radioactive gas leak.

There were nuclear meltdowns and hydrogen explosions that caused no immediate deaths. But, it has resulted in some major hazardous aftermath. The water of the pacific ocean was contaminated with the release of some radioactive material.

7. Rana Plaza tragedy in 2013- The Rana Plaza Tragedy is also known as the Dhaka garment factory disaster. It was a structural failure of an 8-storey commercial building that caused more than 1100 fatalities and 2500 injuries. It is known as the deadliest structural failure disaster in human history.

The building included shops, factories and apartments. There were cracks reported in the building but the owner ignored them and the next morning disaster occurred. It also involved several illegal constructions. Along with the workers’ several children and women were also stuck in the collapsed construction.

6. Chernobyl nuclear explosion in 1986- The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident at a power plant reactor in Ukraine. It is also known as the worst industrial disaster in the history of human mankind. The explosion was an output of a testing stimulation, impoverished design and human mistake.

There were less than 100 direct deaths but, reports suggest that there will be several long-term ill-effects on health that are still undetected. The Chernobyl nuclear explosion released more radiation than the nuclear blasts in Hiroshima during world war 2. The radioactive release spread over Russia and Europe abandoning 187 communities.


5. The disaster of Courrières in 1906- The Courrières is also called the worst mining accident in Europe. There was a coal dust explosion that caused more than 300 fatalities and hundreds of injuries. Rescue operations were commenced soon after the disaster but the rescuers were not properly trained and equipped.

It ignited huge processions, strikes and tension among the mining community. The study in the modern era concluded that the site was easy for coal mining as well as complex for its time that caused fatalities by the accident.


4. Deepwater Horizon in 2010- Deepwater horizon is one of the worst marine oil spills in human history. There was a discharge of nearly 4.9 million barrels. When some work was going on a gas shoot up and the emergency valve failed to stop the accident. The leak killed more than 11 workers on-site and injured more than 17.

There were several efforts made to curb the valves and stop the oil spill but, some reports suggested that even after blocking the valve the oil continued to spill. The disaster was dated when a thick layer of old was formed above the water bodies. Deepwater horizon was a reality check that drilling in an ecological environment is risky and hazardous. 

3. Piper Alpha in 1988- Piper Alpha was originally an oil platform and later a gas production centre in the north sea, Scotland. It was handled and managed by a private professional company. A big explosion took place at the site and destroyed the site killing more than 160 people while others escaped.

It is called the most expensive man-made disaster with a loss of £ 1.7 billion. After the Piper Alpha disaster, there was a lot of criticism of the carelessness of post-disaster evacuation and recovery. The control unit responsible for informing and controlling evacuation was destroyed at the beginning of the blast itself that made the situation worse.

2. Halifax Explosion in 1917- The Halifax explosion was an industrial disaster where a cargo ship carrying a high amount of explosives hit a big vessel near the strait at Halifax in Canada. It killed 2,000 people and buildings deteriorated injuring nearly 9,000 people.

The Halifax explosion was also known as the biggest man-made explosion at that time. As soon as the evacuation process began all the nearby hospitals were full. Temporary shelters were built leaving thousands of people homeless on the streets. Nearly 5,000 people suffered from eye injuries by shattering glass and it led to the discovery of better research and treatment for eye injuries in Canada in future.

Also read: Top 10 Worst Floods of all Time

1. Aberfan Disaster in 1966- The Aberfan disaster struck south Wales when a colliery spoil tip slid downhill in the Aberfan village. Nearly 144 people were dead and among them, 116 were school children. Colliery spoil tip was a collection of mining waste items collected during 8 years.

There were several warnings given by the national coal board that were ignored. Aberfan disaster was a man-made disaster because the spoil tip was man-made and it involved grave human negligence. Heavy rains used to hit aberfan, south wales in October that worsened the situation and the disaster of spoil tip destroyed farms, junior school and nearby villages.

The process of industrialization that commenced after the industrial revolution began a new chapter in human history. Mankind turned towards developmental goals. But, along with that, it brought such man-made disasters or industrial disasters with human negligence that claimed loss of life, property, environment and peace.