Mountain disasters

Mountain disasters

Page Type Page Type: Fact Sheet

Worst mountain disasters

worst mountain disasters (given in the chronological order):

218 B.C. Hanibal`s army marched toward Rome. During mountain traverse, 18000 soldiers, 2000 horses and 37 elephants lost,
waste number of them killed by avalanches
563. A.C. massive land-slide from the nearby mountains fenced-in the Rhone river above the Geneva lake.
Mass of water hit and broke stone made embankment, poured into the Geneva lake
and completely flooded roman settlement of  Taurentunum at tha lake shore. 2000 Romans died.
1248, November 24th-25th, Part of Mont Granier at the north end of the Chartreuse fell down.
Modern estimates reckon about 1000 dead due to this night time landslide
1348, January 25th, town Villach on the north side of the Karavanke/Karawanken range in SE Alps. Massive landslide from mt. Dobratch
caused by an earthquake, flattened the town, killing round  5000 people. These days, town Villach is quiet, almost dull ralilway junction.
It is less known that the town was hit by the earthquake-caused landslides twice. Second disaster occured on 4th of December 1690.,
number of victims was never accurately stated.
, September 2nd. Arth-Goldau in Scwyz/Switzerland. 20 or so lightweight slides were followed by massive one from mt. Rossberg.
Estimated 15 million sq. metres of rocks and pebbles hit the walley, killing 457 in several villages. The villages were never rebuilt.
1826,  August 26. Mt. Willey landslide in Crawford Notch. The Willey Family members hear the avalanche
and run out of their house at night. The Willey house is unharmed but the 9 who left the house are dead.
1892, July 12, an ice-debris flow  caused by a sub-glacial lake having formed under the Glacier de Miage,  killed 177 people of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains
1903, April 29th, town Frank in the province of Alberta, Kanada was almost swept by
800 square metres large piece of  limestone rock that got loose from the nearby Turtle mountain.
Exact number of victims not known, 70 bodies were found.
1910, March 1st,  massive avalanche slided off the Cascade mountain near Wellington/Washington state,
hitting the railway tracks and, unfortunatelly, the passengers train. Out of 119 passengers on the train, 96 died.
1911, Pamir,  Tajikistan, massive mountain landslide destroyed the village of Usoj, killing 54
and fenced-in the Murghob river, forming the lake Sarez, 284 metres deep and 53 km wide.
1914-1918, winters of war on the Austrian/Italian front. Both sides were launching avalanches on purpose by artillery fire.
Estimated number of casualties around 40000, 3000 Austrian soldiers were killed by avalanches inside 48 hours.
1950/51, winter of the avalanches in the Alps. 1300 avalanches in Switzerland alone.
280 casualties in Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France. 6000 acres of woods,
which are natural protection against avalanches, were flattened.
1959, near West Yellowstone. 28 people were killed in a 7.5 quake, the strongest ever recorded in Montana, when the side of Sheep Mountain slid into a campground on the Madison River 1960, large slide of the mixed ice and rocks rolled down from the mt. Huascaran (6768m/2220f) in Peru, destroying 8 villages and
half  of the Ranrahirca town. estimated number of victims 3500. Large portion of mt. Huascaran`s western side collapsed,
with remains still hanging.
1965, August 30th, Mattamark/Wallis, Switzerland was a construction site for a new dam.
Close to the top of the dam, several hundred metres large block of ice break off the Allaling glacier,
sweeping away workers sheds on the construction site. 88 people died.
1970, Peru was hit by  an earthquake, causing the hanging remains of the mt. Huascaran (see 1960. tragedy above) to finally collapse
into the valley. Massive landslides hit the valley of Rio Santa, killing 10000, another 8000 bodies were found under the debris.
Town Ranrahirca was completely flattened. Only 200 people survived, by escaping to the town`s highpoint - the local cemetary.
1976, July 31st, 1976 Big Thompson Canyon floods below Rocky Mtn. Park 145 people were drowned that night. Fellow SP member Desainme
luckily escaped the tragedy
1987, July 28th, Large portion of the 3066m/10056f  high Pizzo Coppetto near town Bormilo, simply collapsed. 10 million square metres
hit Veltlin and destroyed the village of Aqualone. Thanks to the on time-alert, people evacuated and, thankfully, death toll was restricted to 7.
By still unverified estimations, Pizzo Coppetto is not a 3000er anymore, elevation of  what has left of the mountain, roughly estimated at some 2500-2600m. 
1990, July 13th, massive  snow & ice avalanche killed 43 out of 45 expedition members at peak Lenin base camp in Pamir.
Worst tragedy and largest loss of human lives in the mountaineering history.
1993, end of September, Abkhazian troops push the Georgian troops from Abkhazia after years of violence and fighting; between 160 000 and 250 000 Georgians are forces to flee Abkhazia; many of them die as they try to cross the passes into Svaneti, some sources say up to 10000 perished in the mountains of the Caucasus.
1995, winter, Catastrophic avalanches hitting the northwestern Iceland towns of Flateyri and Súðavík, killing 34 people.
1999, February 23rd, 187000 of snow break loose from the Grieskopf, hitting the village of Galtür at 420 km/h speed.
31 people died.
2000, November 11th, funicular railway caugth by fire in the middle of the tunnel, while transferring skiers to the Schmiedinger glacier,
north of the Kitzsteinhorn peak. 156 people died. Considered a worst  tragedy in the mountain tourismus by now
2002September 20th, northern slope of the Mkinvartsveri (Kazbek) massif, North Ossetia, Russian Caucasus. In a cirque just west of Mkinvartsveri (Kazbek),
chunks of rock and hanging glacier on the north face of Mt. Dzhimarai-Khokh tumbled onto the Kolka glacier below.
Kolka collapsed, setting off a massive avalanche of ice, snow, and rocks of about 100×106 m3 volume, that poured into the Genaldon River valley.
Hurtling downriver nearly 8 miles, the avalanche exploded into the Karmadon Depression,
a small bowl of land between two mountain ridges, and swallowed the village of Nizhniy Karmadon and several other settlements,
causing the death of ca. 140 people and massive destruction
A similar event happened at Kolka twice before, more significant collapse at Kolka Glacier  killed 32 people in 1902, whilst glacier surged in 1969.
Historical accounts indicate that similar events have happened in neighboring valleys, as well.


NASA Earth Observatory page about the Kolka glacier collaps (Caucasus Russia)

USGS - Glacier Hazards in Peru

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