Special Report

The Deadliest Structure Collapses of All Time

The death toll of the recent foot bridge collapse in the state of Gujarat, India, reached at least 141, with at least 50 children among the dead. The recently-repaired historic suspension bridge collapsed on Oct. 30 with 400 people celebrating a post-Diwali ritual on deck. When a bridge cable snapped, hundreds of people plunged into the water below in one of the deadliest structure collapses in India.

Structural failures are unfortunately not at all uncommon. To identify the deadliest structure failures of all time, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a list of the 30 deadliest structure failures throughout history from ForneyVault, a software company that provides testing for construction materials. Structure failures are ordered by the death tolls caused by failures. ForneyVault’s list includes disasters prior to the Gujarat bridge collapse dating back from Ancient Rome. (Here are 25 ancient civilizations destroyed by natural disasters.)

Bridges can collapse when they are overloaded, but they can also crumble when hit by flash floods. While seven bridge collapses made the list, bridges are not the only structures susceptible to failure. Many of the most deadly incidents were dam failures. SImilarly, often heavily occupied industrial buildings, stadiums, and office buildings have also collapsed, leading to high death tolls. 

Common causes of these tragedies include poor engineering or construction oversight. Often it is later discovered  that some of these structures also failed to attain proper inspection and permits. Hundreds of these deaths can be attributed to building owners cutting corners to save money or ignoring problems to continue making a profit. 

Natural elements like earthquakes, heavy rains, floods, and avalanches also commonly contribute to structural failures. A less common but just as deadly cause is terrorism. Multiple building collapses that killed hundreds of people were precipitated by bombings or other terrorist attacks. Here are 18 of history’s most famous bridge bombings.

Click here to see the deadliest structure collapses of all time.

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