5 worst industrial disasters

From Bangladesh to Chernobyl, a look at some of the most devastating accidents in world history

By Associated Press
May 10, 2013 4:27PM (UTC)
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Workers off-load coffins at a morgue on Wednesday May 1, 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (AP/Ismail Ferdous)

The 1,000th body has been pulled from the Bangladesh garment-factory building that collapsed last month. Very few other industrial accidents in world history have had such a high death toll. They include:

— April 26, 1986: A reactor meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in present-day Ukraine spews radiation into the surrounding community. A fire kills dozens of people immediately, and contamination of the air, food and water has been blamed for thousands of deaths. United Nations agencies have put the death toll at 4,000 to 9,000, with anti-nuclear groups contending the number is much higher.


— Dec. 3, 1984: Lethal methyl isocyanate gas leaks from a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, exposing 500,000 people in the surrounding community to tainted air and water. It caused an estimated 15,000 deaths, and activists blame many more cases of cancer, birth defects and illnesses on the continuing contamination.

— April 26, 1942: A gas and coal dust explosion inside a Japanese-run mine in Benxi, China, kills 1,549 people.

— Dec. 6, 1917: A ship loaded with explosives is ignited in a collision in the Halifax harbor in Nova Scotia, Canada, killing about 2,000 people.


— March 10, 1906: A dust explosion in a French mine kills 1,099 workers.

Associated Press

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