July-17: Train Wrecks, Plane Crashes, Explosions, Tsunamis and the Big Owe

July 17: A Cursed Day

From train wrecks, ship sinking, planes crashing, explosions, a tsunami and an Olympic disaster, July 17 has a full menu of mayhem.


Great Train Wreck


The Great Train Wreck of 1856 occurred in Whitemarsh Township, Pennsylvania, between Camp Hill Station and Fort WashingtonStation, on July 17, 1856. Two trains, traveling on the same track in converging directions, collided, killing between 59 and 67, and injuring over 100. The incident was referred to as The Camp Hill Disaster in Montgomery County, and The Picnic Train Tragedy in the city of Philadelphia. It was the deadliest railroad catastrophe in the world up to that time and became one of the signature events of its era.


RMS Carpathia Sunk by U-Boat Torpedo

The RMS Carpathia, which had rescued the survivors of the Titanic, was sunk in the Atlantic after being torpedoed by a German U-boat off the Irish coast. Five of her crew lost their lives in the sinking.


Port Chicago Disaster

The Port Chicago disaster was a deadly munitions explosion that occurred at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in Port Chicago, California,. Munitions detonated while being loaded onto a cargo vessel bound for the Pacific Theater of Operations, killing 320 sailors and civilians and injuring 390 others.


Worst Midshipman Crash

USMC R4Q Packet BuNo 131663 was one of twenty aircraft airlifting 1600 Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) second class (2/c) midshipmen between summer aviation training in Texas and amphibious warfare training in Virginia. Shortly after midnight, the plane crashed and burned following a refueling stop in Florida.  With 44 killed it remains the largest number of United States midshipman casualties in a single event.


Bomb Blast at Tower of London

A bomb went off at the Tower of London killing one person and injuring 41 others.


The Big Owe Opens

The 1976 Summer Olympics opened in Montreal, marred by the boycott of 25 African countries and huge cost overruns that left Quebec with a $1.5 billion debt that would not be repaid until 2006.  The centerpiece of the games was the Olympic Stadium which has become a legendary White Elephant that was the second most expensive stadium in history by the time it was paid off.

From Sports Illustrated:

Olympic Stadium opened in 1976 in time for Montreal’s Olympics, but without the promised retractable roof. And after decision-makers gained approval in 1985 to complete the planned roof, they probably wish they hadn’t. The Kevlar fabric was installed in 1987 and tore the first time it was used. It ripped so often that it was kept permanently closed by 1992, even though it leaked profusely. A permanently closed Teflon-coated fiberglass roof took over in 1998, faring no better. Panels fell in 1999 under the weight of snow and slush and the building was closed in winters for fear of a roof collapse.


Collapse of KC Hyatt Regency Walkway

A pair of walkways above the lobby of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel collapsed during a dance, killing 114 people.


TWA Flight 800 Explodes

TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747 bound for Paris, exploded and crashed off Long Island, N.Y., shortly after leaving John F. Kennedy International Airport. All 230 people aboard were killed.  It is the third deadliest aviation accident in U.S. territory.

The FBI closed its investigation after finding no evidence of criminal conduct and the National Transportation Safety Board concluded the probable cause of the accident was an explosion of flammable fuel/air vapors in a fuel tank which most likely was caused by a short circuit.


Papa New Guinea Tsunami

The 1998 Papua New Guinea earthquake took place in the early evening of July, 17 1998 near the north coast region of Papua New Guinea, 25 kilometers (16 mi) from the coast near Aitape. The shock caused a large undersea landslide, which in turn caused a tsunami that hit the coast, killing more than 2200 people.


TAM Airlines Flight 3054 – Brazil’s Deadliest Crash

TAM Airlines Flight 3054 (JJ3054/TAM3054) was a scheduled domestic passenger flight between Porto Alegre and São Paulo, Brazil. On Tuesday, July 17, 2007, the Airbus A320-233 airliner flying this route overran runway 35L at São Paulo during heavy rain and crashed into a nearby TAM Express warehouse adjacent to a Shell filling station. All 181 passengers – 19 of them TAM employees – and 6 crew on board were killed, along with 12 people on the ground. It surpassed GOL Flight 1907 as the deadliest air disaster in Brazilian territory and remains the deadliest aviation accident involving an Airbus A320.


Malaysia Air Flight 17

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17/MAS17)was a scheduled international passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that crashed on 17 July 2014 after being shot down, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board. The Boeing 777-200ER airliner lost contact about 50 km (31 mi) from the Ukraine–Russia border and crashed near Torez in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, 40 km (25 mi) from the border.


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