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Published March 13, 2023

A lot of people had high hopes for 2022. After the general chaos and upset caused by the COVID 19 pandemic through 2020 and 2021, things had to get better, right?


Source: Unsplash

Weather Disasters

Year upon year, extreme weather is responsible for catastrophe and tragedy around the world. 2022 was no exception.

On the 9th of January, following several days of rain in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state, a cliff collapsed into the Furnas Lake. Unfortunately, there were three boats full of tourists at the foot of those cliffs; ten people were killed and a further 32 injured.

Those heavy rains also caused landslides and flooding throughout the state, displacing more than 28,000 people from their homes and causing further fatalities. The state capital, Belo Horizonte, recorded 241.7mm (9.5 inches) of rain in just 72 hours; the average for the entire month of January is 329mm.

The states of Bahia and São Paulo were also badly affected, with at least 21 killed in São Paulo, and this continued on into February, when the heaviest rainfall in nearly a century caused flooding and landslides in the city of Petrópolis, killing over a hundred people.

Brazil would suffer again in May, with heavy rain causing landslides in the state of Pernambuco, killing another hundred people near the city of Recife.

Meteorologists attributed the heavy rains to both La Niña and a summer phenomenon called  the South Atlantic Convergence Zone (SACZ).

Tropical Storm Ana swept through the South African nations of Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique at the end of January. The death toll was reported as 58 in Madagascar, at least 37 in Malawi, and 20 in Mozambique.

Madagascans had little time to recover from this before Cyclone Batsirai struck in February, destroying homes and causing power outages. A further 121 deaths were reported – 87 in the district of Ikongo alone.

An intense storm across Europe was responsible for 17 deaths in mid February; named Eunice in the UK, Zeynep in Germany and Nora in Denmark, the storm set a new record for the fastest wind gust recorded in England with 122 miles per hour (196 km/h) at The Needles in the Isle of Wight.

Australia was severely affected by floods in 2022; first between February and April, affecting South-East Queensland, Wide Bay-Burnett and New South Wales . The Greater Brisbane area received the highest three and seven day totals of rainfall ever recorded there, cutting off supply routes and requiring military assistance to alleviate food shortages. More than twenty people were killed, and thousands more had to be evacuated.

New South Wales was still waterlogged when further flooding hit in July, causing the displacement of 85,000 people, and then, in October, even more floods hit south eastern Australia, with rivers peaking at their highest levels in decades.

Ecuador was also hit by record-breaking rainfall; a torrent almost 40 times heavier than that forecast hit the slopes of the Pichincha volcano near the capital Quito on the 31st of January, triggering a huge landslide that killed more than 20 people. Resident Alba Cotacachi told the Reuters news agency, “We saw this immense black river that was dragging along everything, we had to climb the walls to escape.”

Similarly, landslides in neighbouring Colombia claimed at least 14 lives the following week.

April brought floods to South Africa, killing at least 435 people in the coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal. Some residents of the city of Durban had to wait on their rooftops for evacuation, with only one helicopter available to rescue them. It was one of the country’s deadliest modern disasters, and the worst since the catastrophic 1987 floods.

Tropical Storm Megi, also known as Agaton, caused floods and landslides in the Philippines in April, killing over 200 people and displacing hundreds of thousands. Hundreds of houses were buried in mud, and the storm led to the sinking of two ships.

At the end of September, Typhoon Noru, also known as Super Typhoon Karding, became the strongest storm of the Pacific typhoon season to strike the Philippines, causing huge amounts of agricultural damage as it made landfall just prior to the rice harvesting season. At least 40 people were reported killed, including five rescue workers in the district of San Miguel who were responding to flash floods in the area.

However, it was not the most destructive storm of the year, and more was to come. Tropical Storm Nalgae, which arrived at the end of October, was eventually reported to have killed 162 people and displaced 850,000.

Spain was hit repeatedly by heavy rains, with more than 200mm of rain falling on Valencia in just 24 hours in May, flooding at least four road tunnels. Heavy rain again hit the region in September, killing a police officer who was attempting to rescue a stranded driver, and yet again in November, when hundreds were stranded at the airport after the runway flooded.

More than 300 people were killed in floods across India and Bangladesh following heavy monsoon rains from the end of May onwards. Flooding is not uncommon in these areas, but due to the La Niña effect the rains were unusually heavy. In June, Bangladeshi government officials described the flooding as the worst in the country since 2004. In July, it was reported that more than 150 people had died in the Assam region of India due to floods and landslides in the monsoon season.

Record monsoon rains also badly affected Pakistan, with aid workers warning of rising disease levels in September due to the lack of clean drinking water. The death toll in the country by that point had already passed 1,200. With the country already suffering from an economic crisis, and nearly half the country’s crops destroyed, many faced serious food shortages.

Hurricane Agatha brought devastation to Mexico and Cuba at the end of May. Heavy rains from the storm caused landslides and flash flooding, sweeping away several people, and leaving mountain villages completely cut off. The mayor of Santa Catarina de Xanaguía said, “We are cut off, there’s no power, the roads are damaged and several houses have been destroyed.” 

In the United States, flash floods killed at least 25 people in Eastern Kentucky. Governor Andy Beshear called the floods “by far the worst” he had seen, saying that the waters had not been seen so high in twenty years. 

The South Korean capital of Seoul suffered its heaviest rains in 80 years in August; the resultant flooding killed at least eleven, including two women and a teenage girl in a tiny semi-basement flat like that seen in the Oscar winning film “Parasite”. City officials announced that they would no longer allow such apartments to be constructed, and existing ones would be phased out.

The following month, Typhoon Hinnamnor brought further tragedy to the country, with floodwaters drowning seven people in an underground car park in the city of Pohang. Two others survived by clinging to pipes on the ceiling for over 12 hours.

Hurricane Fiona was the first major hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. It first hit Guadeloupe on the 16th of September, causing near-record rainfall at more than 150mm per hour in some areas. When it reached Puerto Rico on the 18th, it took out power across the entire island. It became the first hurricane to make landfall in the Dominican Republic in 18 years, leaving over a million without running water and destroying thousands of homes, and continued to make landfall in Canada on the 24th, where it was thought to be the strongest storm in the country’s history gauged by barometric pressure. In total, at least 31 people were killed by the storm.

The second major hurricane of the season, Ian, became the third-costliest on record, behind only Katrina in 2005 and Harvey in 2017.  With widespread damage across Cuba and the southeast United States, the cost was estimated to be around 113 billion USD. 157 fatalities were recorded, the majority of these being in Florida.

Torrential rainfall from Hurricane Julia caused catastrophic landslides in the town of Las Tejerías in Venezuela on the 8th of October, killing at least 50 people and destroying more than 300 houses. It was reported that a month’s worth of rain had fallen in the area in just eight hours. In total, 91 deaths were attributed to Julia across Central America.

Between May and October, Nigeria experienced the worst flooding season since 2012, with over 600 people killed and 1.4 million displaced. While climate change and heavy rainfall were blamed by the Nigerian government, another contributing factor was the annual release of water from the Lagdo Dam in neighbouring Cameroon; when the dam was built in 1982, the Nigerian government was supposed to build their own dam in Adamawa State to contain the overflows, but it was never constructed.

While too much rain was an issue for many countries, others suffered from a lack of it. Somalia has now suffered five consecutive failed rainy seasons, and the ongoing drought means over 200,000 people are facing catastrophe-levels of food insecurity. Conflict in Somalia makes it difficult for aid to be effectively delivered, and since the country relies heavily on imported wheat from Russia and Ukraine, the war there also has a significant impact. 

A severe heat wave affected India and Pakistan throughout March and April, killing at least 90 people. Many areas sweltered in temperatures of above 110 F (over 43 C), with the city of Nawabshah in Pakistan recording 121.1 F or 49.5 C on the 1st of May. India as a whole saw its hottest March in 122 years of recorded history and its fourth-hottest April. These record temperatures led to birds falling from the sky due to dehydration, and created electricity shortages due to unprecedented demand. 

In July, Italy declared a state of emergency in five northern regions which were suffering the worst drought in 70 years. The Po, the longest river in the country, was at a record low and more than 30% of the country’s agricultural produce was threatened.

Heatwaves contributed to a heavy wildfire season across Spain and Portugal; it was reported that Spanish wildfires in 2022 burned four times more land than in the preceding decade. A fire near Bejís injured several people when it caught up to a train between Valencia and Zaragoza; although the driver asked passengers to stay on board as he prepared to reverse, some panicked and broke windows to get out. Those who remained on the train were uninjured, but ten of those who fled were injured, with one needing to be airlifted to hospital for treatment.

Algeria also suffered severe wildfires throughout the summer, with at least 43 people killed and more than 200 others, including ten firefighters, injured. It was reported that the fires had destroyed 10,000 hectares (100,000 acres) of forest and a zoo, and damaged a large part of Al-Kala, one of the country’s most important national parks.

A historic blizzard struck North America over Christmas, leaving more than 60 people dead and thousands without power.  28 people were confirmed dead just in the New York city of Buffalo; state governor Kathy Hochul compared the scene to a war zone. 

Geological Disasters

It’s not only weather that creates natural disasters, of course; the earth’s geology can also be lethal.

On the 15th of January, the planet was rocked by the violent eruption of an underwater volcano named Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai, in Tonga, about 2,000 miles (3,300km) east of Australia. The eruption, which would later be confirmed as the largest explosion ever recorded in the atmosphere by modern instruments, sent tsunami waves around the globe and even lifted the clouds over the UK, over 16,000 km away. Tonga was devastated by the eruption, which left many homes destroyed and the country cut off from the internet. Tongan Prime Minister Hu’akavemeiliku Siaosi Sovaleni said “that explosion was like nothing – I mean I haven’t heard something like that. It was terrible – and then all of a sudden, it was nightfall.”

Those waves created another disaster on the coast of Peru, where damage to the La Pampilla refinery caused a leak of over 6,000 barrels of oil, affecting some 18,000 square kilometres (6,950 square miles) of protected zones containing a variety of rare plant and animal life.

The following day, two back-to-back earthquakes shook the rural province of Badghis in Afghanistan. Measuring 4.9 and 5.3 in magnitude, the quakes were just two hours apart and killed at least 26 people, flattening homes throughout the area. However this would be overshadowed several months later when a magnitude 6.1 earthquake shook the province of Paktika on the 21st of June, killing over a thousand and injuring many more. A doctor in the area told the BBC, “We didn’t have enough people and facilities before the earthquake, and now the earthquake has ruined the little we had.”

Another series of earthquakes hit the Hormozgan province of Southern Iran on the 1st July. Two magnitude 6.0 earthquakes were recorded within the space of a couple of hours, and at least twelve aftershocks followed in the next two days. Seven people were reported killed, and many towns and villages were devastated or completely destroyed.

Taiwan was struck by a series of quakes, with the two biggest shocks at 6.5 and 6.9 moment magnitude, in mid September. Many buildings and structures collapsed, including a cement factory where one worker was killed. Thousands of homes were left without power, and 400 stranded tourists had to be evacuated from Chike Mountain.

On the 21st of November, a magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck Java, Indonesia’s most populated island. According to the UN, the quake killed more than 300, injured thousands, displaced more than 73,000 and either damaged or destroyed around 62,000 homes. Rescue efforts were hampered by strong aftershocks

Man-Made Disasters

Of course, while weather and geology are responsible for their share of disasters, many of the year’s tragedies were caused by human factors.

A malfunctioning space heater in a Bronx apartment building led to one of New York’s worst fires in thirty years. More than 200 firefighters attended the blaze in a 19-storey building on the 9th of January, some continuing to fight the fire even when their oxygen supplies ran out. Although the fire itself was largely confined to one apartment, heavy smoke spread throughout the building, leading to the deaths of seventeen people, including eight children, and more than thirty people had to be treated in hospital for life-threatening injuries.

A religious gathering turned tragic in Liberia when 29 people, including 11 children, were killed in a stampede. The World of Life Outreach Mission International were holding a service at a school soccer ground in the capital Monrovia when word spread that a gang of “zogos” were robbing people at knifepoint at the main exit. The attendees attempted to use a narrow gate instead, but panic caused a deadly crush.

The African country of Cameroon was struck by two deadly disasters in as many days, with a nightclub fire in the early hours of the 23rd of January and a crush at a football stadium on the 24th, both in the capital city of Yaoundé. The fire, caused by fireworks used inside Liv’s Night Club, killed at least 16 people, while the crush outside the Africa Cup of Nations match killed eight and injured 38 more.

A fire at another nightclub, this time in Indonesia’s Sorong City, claimed another 19 lives on the 24th. This incident started with a brawl between two rival groups, in which one person was stabbed to death. Although the gangs were said to be armed with machetes, arrows and Molotov cocktails, it was unclear whether the subsequent fire was deliberately set or not.

26 people were fatally electrocuted at a food market in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, when a power cable snapped and collapsed. The live end fell into a waterlogged ditch, spreading the deadly current throughout the area. The majority of the dead were reported to be female market traders.

Another market at a village in Burkina Faso was the site of a devastating explosion on the 21st of February when explosives stored for a makeshift gold mining operation caught fire. 60 people were killed. A judicial source told reporters, “There were bodies strewn everywhere. It was an explosion that managed to uproot trees and bring down houses.”

A six- storey shopping centre in Damascus, Syria, caught fire overnight on the 1st of March. 11 were killed and seven injured; no doubt it would have been worse if had happened during the day.

An explosion at an illegal oil refinery in Nigeria took at least 110 lives on the 22nd of April, in an incident which President Muhammadu Buhari called a “catastrophe and a national disaster”. Oil bunkering – the theft of oil from pipelines which is then stored in bunkers and sold on – is common in the country, and viewed as a lucrative business by its operators. 

The collapse of an eight-storey building in Changsha, China, killed 53 people on the 29th of April. Just ten people survived; the last, an unnamed 21 year old woman, was extracted from the rubble six days after the collapse. Nine people were arrested in the aftermath, including the owner of the property, people in charge of its construction, and five employees of a local engineering company who were accused of writing false safety reports.

An explosion at the five-star Saratoga Hotel in Havana, Cuba, killed 45 people and injured many more on the 6th of May. The hotel was just a few days from re-opening to tourists following the Covid-19 pandemic when the blast, attributed to a gas leak, tore off the facade of the building. The victims were mostly staff, but passers-by, including a Spanish tourist, a pregnant woman and several children from a nearby school were also affected.

A month-long search and rescue operation ended in tragedy after a zinc mine in Burkina Faso was flooded by unexpected torrential rains. Eight workers had been inside the mine when it flooded on the 16th of April, and it was hoped that they could have survived in one of the mine’s rescue chambers. However, when the second chamber was opened on the 17th of May, it was empty. It took until the beginning of June to recover all the bodies. Two executives of the Canadian company Trevali, which owned the mine, were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and given suspended sentences and fines.

On May the 23rd, more than 80 people were buried in the rubble of the Metropol twin towers in Abadan, Iraq, killing more than 40. Although the building was unfinished, lower floors were already open to the public; permission had only been given for the building to have six stories, but an additional four had been constructed. The collapse was attributed to poor construction practices, corruption and negligence, and locals took to the streets in protest against “incompetent officials” in the aftermath.

Although all fatal incidents are tragic, it’s always more heartbreaking when the victims are mere infants. This was the case in Senegal, where a short circuit caused a fire at the maternity unit of a hospital in the city of Tivaouane in May. Eleven newborns were killed; just three were rescued. A similar incident in Linguère the year prior killed four babies; the two incidents led to calls for all neo-natal wards in the country to be inspected.

On the night of the 4th of June,  a fire at a container depot in the Chittagong District of Bangladesh led to massive explosions, believed to be caused by chemicals stored at the facility. Nearly fifty people were reported to have been killed, including one man who had been livestreaming the fire on Facebook. The army were called in to help tackle the fire, which was eventually put out on the afternoon of the 7th.

An explosion at a coal mine in Colombia killed fifteen men in June. The blast, believed to have been caused by a build-up of gas – for which the mine had previously been closed – was so powerful that witnesses reported flames shooting nearly fifty feet outside the entrance. The mine had been given permission to re-open less than two weeks prior to the tragedy.

Later that month tragedy struck Colombia again, when a three-storey wooden stand collapsed during a bullfight in El Espinal. Some 800 people were reported to have been in the section which collapsed; six were reported dead, with many more injured.

At least thirteen people were killed in a chlorine gas explosion at the port of Aqaba in Jordan. The incident, which was caught on video, occurred when a tank holding 25 tonnes of chlorine fell from a winch, releasing a huge cloud of bright yellow toxic gas.

A deadly fire took hold at a Thai nightclub on the 5th of August; exacerbated by flammable acoustic foam on the walls, and with only one exit and entry point for customers, at least thirteen people were pronounced dead on the scene. More would succumb to their injuries in hospital, including a 26 year old woman who became the 25th fatality more than two months later.

Another mining rescue had to be abandoned in northern Mexico after a coal mine in the municipality of Sabinas, Coahuila, collapsed and flooded. With ten miners trapped underground by the incident on the 3rd of August, rescue efforts continued for a month before transitioning to recovery, with officials saying that it could take nearly a year to retrieve the bodies. Arrest warrants were announced for three people suspected of exploitative practices in violation of the law at the Pinabete mine.

Panic broke out at a church service in Giza, Egypt, after an electrical fire broke out, blocking an entrance. Worshippers were attending Mass at the Abu Seifin Coptic Orthodox church at the time; 41 people, including 18 children, were killed by smoke inhalation and the stampede caused by worshippers scrambling to escape. Some claimed that it took more than two hours for fire crews to respond, although officials stated that teams had arrived within minutes. Coptic Christians are a minority in the country, and until 2016 they were prevented from legally establishing new places of worship; the church was established illegally in 2007 and only legalised in 2019.

A fire at a fuel depot in Cuba became the worst in the country’s history, killing 16 firefighters. The blaze at the Matanzas fuel depot began after a lightning strike on the 5th of August, and quickly spread to encompass three fuel tanks, triggering a number of explosions. Although the identities of the fallen firefighters were known, the remains of 14 of them were unable to be identified; the fire had burned so hot that their ashes could not be differentiated from each other. It took almost a week for the fire to be extinguished.

In Vietnam, a fire at a karaoke bar in September killed 33 – 32 in the fire itself, and one due to injuries sustained after jumping from a window to escape. The blaze was attributed to an electrical short circuit, and exacerbated by foam mattresses used to soundproof the individual karaoke rooms. In addition to creating dense smoke, this soundproofing made it more difficult to warn the customers.

One of the world’s worst stadium disasters occurred in Indonesia on the 1st of October, when thousands of football supporters invaded the pitch following the home team’s loss. Riot police deployed tear gas against the crowd, resulting in a stampede in which 135 people were killed, and 583 injured. Five people, including three police officials, one security officer, and a match organiser, were taken to trial in January of 2023.

An explosion at a village petrol station in County Donegal, Ireland, killed ten people on the 7th of October, with injuries to eight others. The village only has a population of around 400. While investigations are ongoing, it’s suspected that the cause was an accidental gas leak.

In Turkey, an explosion at a coal mine near the town of Amasra killed 41 people on the 14th of October. Relatives of the dead reported that miners had been complaining about the smell of gas for over a week prior to the disaster. A police report spoke of “a chain of negligence” and eight people were formally charged in the aftermath.

A collapse in a South Korean zinc mine had a happier ending; following the collapse on the 26th of October, two miners were trapped underground, but were able to survive on instant coffee powder for nine days before being rescued – and walking out of the mine – on the 4th of November. News of their rescue was particularly welcomed because, while they were underground, another tragedy had left the country in mourning.

Over 150 partygoers were killed by a crowd surge in a narrow street in Seoul on the night of the 29th of October. The popular nightlife district of Itaewon was hosting its first unmasked Halloween celebrations since the outbreak of Covid-19, and it’s thought around 100,000 people were in the area. Despite existing concerns about overcrowding during festivities in the area, and at least 79 emergency calls made that evening, police presence was light and more focused on crime than crowd control. A number of officials, mainly police officers and local councillors, have been indicted for “death by professional negligence”.

Another celebration went horribly wrong in the Gujarat state of India on the 30th of October. Hundreds of people were crowded onto a colonial-era footbridge in the town of Morbi, during the Diwali festival, when the 145-year-old bridge collapsed. At least 135 people, mainly women, children and the elderly, were killed after falling into the river. The bridge had only just reopened after repairs; ten people have since been charged with homicide as a result of the tragedy.

In Kostroma, Russia, a man was arrested following a deadly fire at a popular bar. 15 people were killed when the Poligon bar went up in flames; reports said that the man had drunkenly fired a flare gun on the dancefloor.

At least 21 people, including ten children, were killed by a fire in the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. It was reported that gasoline was stored in the building to operate a generator; firefighters needed more than an hour to bring the intense blaze under control.

Transport Disasters

2022 also saw its share of transportation disasters.

A collision between a truck and a motorcycle near the mining town of Bogoso in Ghana led to 13 deaths and around 200 injuries on the 20th of January. The truck had been carrying ten tons of mining explosives, which were set off by the fire which followed the collision. The explosion created a 20 metre, or 66 ft, wide crater, and devastated the village of Apiate. The death toll could have been much worse, but in the fifteen minutes between the collision and the explosion the truck driver was able to warn residents, including children at a nearby school, to escape.

A Bangladeshi ferry collided with a cargo ship and sank shortly after leaving Narayanganj on the 20th of March. At least eight people were killed.

On the 21st of March a Boeing 737 operated by China Eastern Airlines crashed into terrain at high speed in the Guangxi region, killing all 132 on board. Although the investigation continues, American media has speculated that the crash may have been a deliberate action on the part of one of the pilots.

A tourist boat carrying 26 people sank off the coast of Hokkaido in Northern Japan on the 23rd of April. An inexperienced captain, bad weather, and broken communications equipment all contributed to the disaster. Fourteen bodies were retrieved; the rest remained missing.

On the 29th of May, Tara Air Flight 197 went missing during a domestic flight in Nepal. It was later found to have crashed into a hillside, killing all 22 people on board. Although investigations are continuing, initial findings suggested bad weather may have been responsible. 

Five people were killed and dozens injured when a double-decker regional train derailed north of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany. Two of the victims were reported to be refugees from the war in Ukraine. Three Deutsche Bahn employees were investigated in the aftermath, suspected of negligent homicide.

Another train derailment, this time in eastern Iran, occurred on the 8th of June, when a train carrying 348 people struck an excavator near the track. 22 fatalities were reported, with many more seriously injured.

A bus carrying Polish pilgrims crashed on the A4 highway in Croatia on the 6th of August, killing twelve and injuring 32. It was the country’s deadliest road incident since 2008. Initial reports suggested that the driver may have fallen asleep or fainted before veering off the road and crashing into a ditch.

On the 6th of November, a small passenger plane carrying 43 people crashed into Lake Victoria as it attempted to land in Bukoba, Tanzania. Although investigations are continuing, preliminary reports indicate that bad weather was a likely factor. Although 24 people were rescued by local fishermen, 19 people, including the two pilots, died. More lives may have been saved if emergency services had responded quicker, but the official Police Marine Unit boat didn’t arrive until four hours after the crash, and the divers on board didn’t have oxygen in the cylinders to stage a rescue.

A deadly mid-air collision happened at the Wings Over Dallas airshow on the 12th of November. Two World War Two era planes collided during a demonstration flyover; the cause of the accident is still under investigation. Nobody on the ground was injured, but the six crew – five on a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and one in a Bell-P63 Kingcobra – were all killed.

Two firefighters were killed at Lima International Airport on the 18th of November, when a plane accelerating for take-off struck their fire truck. Fortunately, all on board the plane survived, although twenty were treated for injuries. It’s still unclear how both came to be on the runway at the same time. 

Two shockingly similar tragedies in South America occurred thousands of miles, but just a few days apart. On the 28th of November, the BR-376 highway in the Brazilian state of Paraná was wiped out by a sudden landslide, leaving at least two motorists dead and up to 30 missing. Then, on the 4th of December, several vehicles were buried by a landslide in the province of Risaralda in western Colombia. One of these was a bus full of passengers, and at least 27 people were killed.

On the 18th of December, the Thai Navy ship HTMS Sukhothai sank in the Gulf of Thailand after being caught in high waves. 76 sailors were rescued, but 24 were found dead and five remained missing. Investigations into the circumstances of the sinking are ongoing.

At least 34 people were killed, and over three hundred injured, on Christmas Eve when a tanker truck carrying liquid petroleum gas got stuck under a bridge in the town of Boksburg, South Africa. The truck caught fire and exploded. The victims included at least 10 health workers at nearby Tambo Memorial Hospital, which was badly damaged in the blast.

On the same day, in Spain, a bus crashed off a bridge into a river about 30m (98 feet) below, killing at least seven people. It’s thought that bad weather contributed to the crash; the driver tested negative for alcohol and drugs.

And on Christmas Day, a minibus in Burkina Faso, near the border with Niger, hit a landmine, killing at least ten people and wounding five others. Jihadist insurgencies have been competing for power in the region since 2013.

It can be depressing to look back on a year like this, so I’d like to quote Mr Fred Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

And of course many of us can do more than just look for the helpers; we can be the helpers. Whether directly, or by supporting rescue and response organisations like the International Rescue Committee, the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, we can all help.

If you can be anything in 2023, please, be kind and be safe.

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Sources, References and Further Reading


Cliff collapses on boats killing 10

NY building fire kills 19

Heavy rains in Brazil cause deadly flooding and landslides

Underwater volcano and tsunami, Tonga

Earthquakes in Afghanistan

Explosion in Ghana

Oil spill off Peru (linked to Tonga eruption)

Stampede in Liberia

Deadly nightclub fire in Cameroon

Deadly crush at stadium in Cameroon

Fight and fire in nightclub kill 19, Indonesia

Southern Africa hit by tropical storm Ana 

38 missing from capsized boat off Florida

More heavy rains causing floods and landslides in Brazil


26 electrocuted by power cable in DR Congo

Floods in Australia

Ecuador floods and landslides

Cyclone Batsirai Leaves Devastation and Death in Madagascar.

Landslides in Colombia

At least 14 killed across Europe in storm Eunice

At least 117 killed in floods and landslides in petropolis, Brazil

Explosion at gold mine in Burkina Faso


Thousands evacuate Australia floods

11 dead in shopping centre fire, Syria

Bangladesh ferry collision

Over 130 dead in China plane crash


Floods in South Africa

Drought in Somalia, risk of famine

Tropical storm Megi kills 25 in Philippines

Oil refinery explosion in Nigeria

Heatwave in India

Japanese tourist boat sinking


Building collapse in China

Floods in Valencia

Hotel explosion in Havana

Severe dust storms in Iraq

Miners trapped 700m deep in Burkina Faso (actually April)

None survived

Severe flooding in Assam, India

10 storey building collapse in Iran

Canadian storms kill8 leave many without power

Senegal hospital fire kills 11 babies

Plane crash in northern Nepal

Landslides in Brazil

100 dead

Hurricane Agatha kills 11 in Mexico

And at least 2 in Cuba


Train derailment in Germany kills at least 4

At least 49 dead in Bangladesh explosion

At least 9 dead in Colombia mine

Train derailment in Iran kills 21

Fire at Shanghai chemical plant

Floods in India and Bangladesh

Deadly earthquake in Afghanistan

Huge ferry fire in Philippines

Bullfight stand collapse in Colombia

Chlorine gas explosion in Jordan


Alpine glacier avalanche

Floods in Australia

Landslides in India

Drought in northern Italy

Storm Bonnie kills at least 5 in central America

Earthquake in Iran

Floods in Kentucky


Thailand nightclub fire

Croatia bus crash

Ten miners trapped underground in Mexico

Flooding in Seoul; basement flat deaths

Panamanian politician heli crash – social media SOS

Egypt church fire

Spanish wildfires; train caught up

Fireworks warehouse explosion near Armenian market

Fuel depot fire, Cuba

At least 43 dead in Algerian wildfires

Portugal wildfires

Iraqi shrine collapse after landslide


Pakistan floods

Fire at karaoke bar in Vietnam

Seven killed in underground car park flood – typhoon Hinnamnor

Typhoon Nanmadol, Japan

Taiwan earthquake, 1 dead

China skyscraper fire, no casualties reported

Hurricane Fiona, Puerto Rico

Typhoon Noru, Phillipines

Storm Fiona, Canada

Hurricane Ian


Indonesian football stampede

Donegal petrol station explosion

Floods in Australia

Venezuela landslide

Storm/hurricane Julia

Turkey coal mine explosion

East Africa drought

Nigeria floods

Halloween crush in Seoul, South Korea

Philippines storm Nalgae floods and mudslides

Hurricane Roslyn, Mexico

Pedestrian bridge collapse India


Plane crash in Lake Victoria

South Korea miners rescued after 9 days

Deadly fire in Russian bar started by flare gun

Dominican Republic floods

Dallas air show midair collision

Lima airport – plane crashes into fire truck

At least 21 dead in Gaza refugee camp fire

Java earthquake kills at least 162


Deadly landslide in Brazil

Thai navy ship sinks

South Africa fuel tanker explosion

US Winter storm kills at least 19

7 killed in bus crash off bridge in Spain

Minibus hit landmine in Burkina Faso

Skiers rescued after avalanche in Austria

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