Ever since our childhood, we have been told one thing over and over- don’t play with fire. One of man’s greatest discoveries can be one of our greatest threats. Firework displays are very common during festivals or events and are a million dollar industry in itself. However, improper safety procedures lead to the death of several due to fireworks disasters. We compiled a list of the deadliest fireworks disasters around the world which left many casualties.
1. Seine, France (16 May 1770)
Touted as the worst fireworks disaster to ever occur, over 800 people were left dead and countless were injured after a firework display took a bad turn. The display was arranged on 16 May 1770 beside the famed river Seine in France to celebrate Marie-Antoinette’s marriage to Dauphin aka Louis XVI. Guinness Book of World Records still holds this as the worst fireworks disaster in the world.
2. Puttingal Temple, India (2016)
One of the biggest fireworks disasters in India occurred in April 2016, in the small town of Paravoor in Kerala, India. The famous Puttingal temple was hosting a fireworks display and many batches of fireworks were kept in a shed within the temple complex. The fireworks display began, and a spark managed to ignite the batch of fireworks which were in the shed. This led to a series of explosions when the fireworks from the earlier blast ignited the fireworks kept in the storehouse and also killed a group of people who were bringing a separate batch of fireworks to the temple. The blasts occurred at 3 am in the morning and the official death toll of the incident was 106. Over 273 people were left injured after the accident. The disaster received worldwide attention and the government of India came down heavily on competitive fireworks after the incident.
3. Enschede, Holland (May 2000)
A famous fireworks disaster occurred in May, 2000, in the town of Enschede, Holland. The town constructed a building called Firework Depot and stocked a large pile of fireworks in one place, which should have been a warning in itself. A small fire ignited within the building through sparks and ended up in two massive explosions. This lead to the death of over 23 people, which included 19 civilians and 4 firemen. The total number of people injured in the accident was 947 and the homes of 1250 people were completely destroyed. The incident was very publicised and is held as one of the biggest fireworks disaster ever.
4. Sivakasi, India (2012)
Diwali is a festival celebrated in India every year, and the festival is synonymous with fireworks displays. To prepare for this festival, hundreds of laborers are employed to build fireworks throughout the year. Sivakasi, a town in South India, is famous for its fireworks. A particular factory called Om Sakthi Fireworks Industries was operating one day in 2012 when suddenly a fire broke out due to the mixing of explosive chemicals. The result was the death of over 40 people within and around the factory and over 70 people suffered injuries. The region contained over 700 fireworks factories, and in the aftermath of this particular incident, many factories including Om Sakthi were shut down due to them not possessing proper licenses to operate.
5. Henan Province, China (2013)
A deadly fireworks accident occurred in 2013 in China’s Henan Province, when a truck containing fireworks exploded on a highway bridge. The explosion caused the part of the elevated bridge to collapse, leading to vehicles dropping one hundred feet to the ground. Over 26 people were killed in total due to both the explosion and the destruction of the bridge. The incident left countless injured.
6. Mexico (2013)
A religious procession in honor of Jesus Christ in a rural village in Mexico City took a bad turn when the rockets that people were shooting landed on one of the fire trucks which were carrying fireworks. It managed to ignite the fireworks and the truck immediately exploded, leading to massive destruction of anything within a 100-yard radius. Over 16 people were found dead and 154 others were injured in the incident. Mexican celebrations often involve fireworks displays and are carried in unsafe conditions, the result of which was this horrific incident.
7. Manila, Philippines (2009)
Over 8 were killed and 70 were left injured after a blast occurred at a fireworks factory which is located 50 kilometers south of Manila, the capital of Philippines. The blast was heard by people over three kilometers away from the site and many body parts were found scattered all over the region. The blast created many craters within the factory and damaged several houses and a church located near the factory. Most of the victims of the incident were workers in the factory.
8. North Carolina (2009)
A horrific incident occurred in North Carolina on Ocracoke Island in 2009, when a truck carrying fireworks for the celebrations of 4th of July exploded. The explosion occurred due to sparks which were created by the crew when they were working on the truck. All 4 members of the crew died in the explosion, and many firefighters who tried to contain the fire were injured in the incident. Witnesses of the incident believed it to be a fireworks display at first, before realizing that it was actually unintended and a disaster. Firefighters then arrived on the scene. Smoke from the explosion could be seen from miles away.
9. Denmark (2004)
The worst fireworks incident in Denmark occurred in 2004 when the N. P. Johnsens Fyrværkerifabrik fireworks factory in a small town in Denmark exploded. Over 1,200 tons of fireworks which were in the factory were ignited and the explosion caused the injury of 17 residents. The cost of the damages went up to $140 million, and one fireman tragically lost his life while trying to contain the fire. Over 34 others were left with burns and other health problems due to smoke inhalation. The fire was contained before the death count rose any further. Over 2,000 people were evacuated from the scene to prevent further damage.
10. Wallarewang, Australia (2007)
A fireworks factory in the small town of Wallerawang witnessed a freak fireworks accident in the month of December 2007. The factory exploded mysteriously and cause numerous damage, but no one was injured or killed in the incident. The explosion’s effects were seen across 18 miles when people found debris from the blast. That year was the 85th anniversary of the fireworks factory. Needless to say, it was the last anniversary they celebrated.
These disasters show us how extremely important it is to maintain safety procedures in a lot of events and other crowded places. Many of these could have been avoided if there had been proper fire safety procedures installed at the venues. While firework displays are something we love watching, it is necessary for the perpetrators of the display to ensure the safety of their audience.