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Manmade Disasters: Home

Disaster Challenge!

As an intern working for the History Channel, your task is to research a new episode for the television show Modern Marvels: Engineering Disasters that will make a thought-provoking and informative feature.  You must convince the review panel to produce your episode if you want a job with a salary to come out of this internship!

Man-Made Disasters

Anthropogenic hazards or human-made hazards can result in the form of a human-made disaster. In this case, anthropogenic means threats having an element of human intent, negligence, or error; or involving a failure of a human-made system. This is as opposed to natural hazards that cause natural disasters. Either can result in huge losses of life and property as well as damage to peoples' mental, physical and social well-being.

Types of hazards

Technological Hazards

  • Industrial hazards: Industrial disasters occur in a commercial context, such as mining accidents. They often have an environmental impact. 
  • Structural collapse: Structural collapses are often caused by engineering failures. 
  • Hazaradous Materials: Radiation contamination: When nuclear weapons are detonated or nuclear containment systems are otherwise compromised, airborne radioactive particles (nuclear fallout) can scatter and irradiate large areas. Not only is it deadly, but it also has a long-term effect on the next generation for those who are contaminated. Ionizing radiation is hazardous to living things, and in such a case much of the affected area could be unsafe for human habitation. 
  • Hazardous Materials: Chemicals. 


  • Aviation:  An aviation incident is an occurrence other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft, which affects or could affect the safety of operations, passengers, or pilots. The category of the vehicle can range from a helicopter, an airliner, or a space shuttle. 
  • Rail: A railroad disaster is an occurrence associated with the operation of a passenger train which results in substantial loss of life. Usually accidents with freight (goods) trains are not considered disasters, unless they cause substantial loss of life or property. 
  • Road Traffic: collisions are the leading cause of death, and road-based pollution creates a substantial health hazard, especially in major conurbations.
  • Space: Space travel presents significant hazards, mostly to the direct participants (astronauts or cosmonauts and ground support personnel), but also carry the potential of disaster to the public at large.  Accidents related to space travel have killed 22 astronauts and cosmonauts, and a larger number of people on the ground.  Accidents can occur on the ground during launch, preparation, or in flight, due to equipment malfunction or the naturally hostile environment of space itself. An additional risk is posed by (unmanned) low-orbiting satellites whose orbits eventually decay due to friction with the extremely thin atmosphere. If they are large enough, massive pieces travelling at great speed can fall to the Earth before burning up, with the potential to do damage.
  • Sea travel: Ships can sink, capsize or crash in disasters.