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Disasters in 1978, page 2

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February 16 A coal mine explosion in Tatabanya, Hungary, killed 26 miners and injured 19 others.

April 3 A gas explosion in a coal mine near Aleksinac, Yugoslavia, killed 12 persons and injured 26 others.

November 10 Ten coal miners were killed when the pit cage in which they were riding experienced a mechanical failure and crashed down a mine shaft near Changsong, South Korea.

November 21 Seven miners were killed and another 19 injured when the last two cars of a four-car train carrying some 70 miners to the surface of a coal pit in Doncaster, England, derailed half a mile underground.


January-February The A-Victoria and A-Texas influenza strains, complicated by pneumonia, were responsible for over 6,000 deaths in 121 major cities across the United States.

March An outbreak of cholera claimed the lives of 82 of the 411 persons living on the island of Simeulue, Indonesia.

May 5 A banyan tree uprooted during a storm crashed into a marketplace in Jessore, Bangladesh, killing 30 persons and injuring another 100.


January 12 A fierce rainstorm accompanied by high tides and 75-mph winds lashed the east coast of Great Britain. Hundreds of homes were damaged in the worst flooding since 1953. Three ships carrying 17 crewmen were lost, 5 persons were killed in traffic accidents attributed to the storm, and 2 persons were found dead after the storm subsided.

January 13 Floods claimed the lives of 20 persons in southeastern Colombia.

January 13-17 Twenty-six persons died and thousands more were left homeless when floodwaters swept through shantytowns in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Paraiba, Brazil.

January 14 A series of earthquakes, centered near the volcanic island of Oshima, Japan, and measuring up to 7 on the Richter scale, damaged homes, cut rail and road links, injured 98 persons, and killed 21 others. After a dam burst, 80,000 cubic meters of poisonous sludge poured into rivers.

A highway near Higashi-Izu was seriously damaged in the Oshima earthquake.

Oshima earthquake damage

January 25-26 A blizzard accompanied by wind gusts of up to 100 mph and temperatures as low as -50º F dropped some 31 inches of snow across the Midwestern United States, stranded 8,000 motorists, closed airports, and caused over 100 deaths.

January 26-30 Flooding in East Java, Indonesia, damaged houses and crops, forced the evacuation of 7,000 people, and caused 41 deaths.

January 28-30 Flooding in Transvaal Province, South Africa, claimed the lives of 26 persons.

February 2-3 A series of avalanches triggered by strong winds that swept through the Alps killed at least 21 persons.

February 5-7 A blizzard packing winds of up to 110 mph dropped 50 inches of snow in Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts. The storm, which was also accompanied by 18-foot tides along the coast, was blamed for at least 60 deaths.

Seaside cottages were tumbled together and wrecked by the storm that hit Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

wrecked seaside cottages

February 10 Torrential rains followed by severe flooding destroyed Hidden Canyon, a mountain canyon resort in the Angeles National Forest in southern California. The heavy rains forced the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to close and cages in the Los Angeles Zoo were battered and smashed, setting many animals free. Twenty-five persons were listed as missing and feared dead in the deluge.

March 5 A Pacific Coast storm caused massive flooding and mudslides that claimed the lives of 5 persons in southern California and 20 others in northern Mexico, and left 20,000 people homeless.

March 12 An avalanche near Aigle, Switzerland, buried 20 skiers under 15-18 feet of snow; only one skier survived.

March 17 A tornado killed 32 persons and injured another 700 in the northern outskirts of Delhi, India.

March 27 Flooding along the Zambezi River in Mozambique caused millions of dollars in property damage, left morethan 20,000 people homeless, and killed at least 45 others.

April 17 A tornado that swept through Orissa State, India, devastated 500 homes and damaged 1,200 others, injured over 1,000 persons, and killed nearly 500 others.

May 15 Floods and landslides in Sri Lanka left several thousand people homeless and claimed the lives of 10 others.

May 16 Flooding caused the evacuation of 8,000 persons and killed 21 others in West Atjeh, North Sumatra, Indonesia.

May 18 A 3-mile-long river of thick mud up to 10 feet deep flowed down a mountain stream and destroyed a dozen buildings in a ski resort at Myoko Kogen Machi, Japan. While 500 troops and 300 firemen were attempting to rescue survivors, another avalanche of mud rushed down the mountain and swept 4 officials off their feet. Thirteen persons were killed, including three officials.

June 12 An earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale struck Honshu, Japan. The hardest hit was the city of Sendai, where power lines and buildings collapsed. Twenty-one persons were killed, and 350 others were injured.

June 20 An earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale claimed the lives of at least 47 persons in Thessaloniki, Greece.

August 1 Rain falling at nearly one inch per hour caused a series of floods in central Texas that left more than 25 persons dead. The hardest hit was the city of Albany, where a 20-foot wall of water forced some 2,000 residents to spend the night on roofs, in trees, and on top of oil derricks.

mid-August Heavy flooding followed by mudslides throughout northern Philippines left thousands homeless and 45 persons dead. Thirty bus passengers were buried under a mudslide when they traveled by foot across mud after the driver refused to chance the mountain crossing.

August 3 A quake of magnitude 7.0 near Copiapo, Chile, caused considerable damage.

August 13 An earthquake beneath the Santa Barbara Channel off California caused $12-15 million in damage in Santa Barbara and Goleta, including a freight train derailment.

Iran earthquake September 16 An earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale completely obliterated the city of Tabas, Iran, and claimed the lives of at least 25,000 persons.

October 26 Typhoon Rita blasted the Philippines with 130-mph winds, swept some 10,000 homes away, flooded the country's rice crop, and killed about 200 persons.

November 23 A cyclone that struck Sri Lanka and the southern coast of India destroyed more than 500,000 buildings, flooded some 45 Indian villages, and claimed at least 1,500 lives.


February 25 A speeding express train carrying over 2,000 passengers to Buenos Aires, Argentina, struck a heavy truck at Saa Pereyra when the driver failed to heed the flashing lights at the crossing. The derailment of all 11 cars left nearly 50 persons dead and more than 120 injured.

Youngstown, Florida, train derailment February 26 A southbound Atlanta and St. Andrews Railroad freight train derailed near Youngstown, Florida. Among the 52 locomotives and cars that left the tracks was a tank car carrying 90 tons of chlorine. The tank car was punctured, releasing a cloud of chlorine gas that covered the surrounding countryside and portions of a highway. Unable to see the gas because the sun had not yet risen and the night was foggy, several motorists on the highway drove into the cloud, where they choked while their cars stalled. Eight persons died and at least 114 others were reported injured.

February 26 An Illinois Central Gulf Railroad freight train derailed in Cades, Tennessee. A tank car containing caustic lye was punctured and residents of the area had to be evacuated but no injuries were reported.

March 22 A train crash in Libiri, Zaire, killed 22 persons.

April 16 A passenger train crashed into a bus in Puebla, Mexico. Ten passengers on the bus were killed and 16 others were injured.

April 17 A southbound Venice-to-Rome luxury express train collided head on with a northbound Lecce-to-Milan local near Bologna, Italy, during a blinding rainstrom that triggered a mudslide across the tracks and forced the local into the path of the express. At least 100 persons were injured and 43 were killed, some of whom were found in the four coaches of the express that rolled 90 feet down an embankment after the collision.

December 21 The locomotive of a train slammed into a school bus carrying over 90 children to a Christmas party near Munoz, Spain, killing 28 children and 1 adult and injuring another 63 children.


January 19 A section of a bridge under construction in central India collapsed, killing at least 70 workers.

April 27 Scaffolding inside a cooling tower at the Monongahela Power Plant at Willow Island, West Virginia, collapsed, sending 51 workers, 10 of them from one family, to their deaths. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration ultimately determined that the concrete poured the previous day was not tested for strength, that necessary bolts to anchor thescaffolding were missing,and that beam sections supporting the concrete-lifting system were not anchored to hold the loads. [contemporary news accounts]

April 28 A four-story building in Beirut, Lebanon, housing refugees from Israel's invasion of southern Lebanon collapsed, killing at least 13 persons and injuring at least 40 others.

July 30 The roof and second story of a Tehran, Iran, hospital collapsed and buried 28 patients on the first floor. Eleven persons were killed and 17 others were injured.


January 3 A bus smashed into a parked truck in Sariaya, Philippines. Twenty-one passengers were killed and 38 were injured.

February 15 A school bus transporting students in rural areas toppled off a narrow road into a 500-foot ravine about 13 miles south of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Eleven children were killed and 30 were injured.

February 16 Forty persons were killed and another 25 injured when a bus plunged over a precipice in Tarma Province, Peru.

March 22 A collision between a bus and a road tanker near Birjand, Iran, killed 28 persons and injured 26 others.

March 27 A head-on collision between two buses near San Luis, Mexico, killed at least 30 of the 81 passengers. Many of the victims died in the fire that broke out following the crash.

March 30 An oil truck, bus, and car collided on the Karaj-Qazvin road west of Tehran, Iran, leaving 26 persons dead and another 18 injured.

May 4 A tourist bus carrying university students on an excursion to Pasto, Colombia, tumbled over a precipice; 18 passengers were injured and 11 were killed.

May 8 A bus transporting members of two wedding parties skidded off a bridge near Gwalior, India, and plunged into a river. Thirty-five persons were injured and 31 others, including the 2 grooms and 9 children, were killed.

June 10 At least 23 persons were killed and another 22 injured when a bus plunged into a ravine in northern Morocco.

July 16 A truck carrying propane flipped over, exploded, and sent flames over a half mile of four-lane highway near Mexico City, Mexico. Two trucks, two buses, and a car crashed into the wreckage. Eleven persons were killed and some 200 others were severely burned.

July 17 An overcrowded bus plunged into the Nile River near Cairo, Egypt, after colliding with a truck. Eleven passengers and the driver escaped injury but 56 others, many of them soldiers, drowned.

July 23 A city bus crashed through a bridge guardrail and plunged 60 feet into the Han River in Seoul, South Korea, killinh 36 persons and seriously injuring 7 others.

July 23 A bus plummeted into the swollen Trusuli River near Mungling, Nepal. Twenty-five of the 39 persons aboard were killed.

August 4 A bus returning from a theatrical performance careened off a roadway and plunged into Lac d'Argent, in Quebec, Canada, after its brakes failed. Forty mentally or physically handicapped passengers drowned when the vehicle sank in 60 feet of water.

August 12 A bus plunged into a river between Arua and Moyo, Uganda, killing at least 40 persons, many of whom were children returning to their villages from school.

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The Robinson Library >> In The Year... >> 1978

This page was last updated on December 24, 2017.