Travel disasters of 2013

2013-12-23 08:41
We all know the risks involved with travelling.  

Even though stepping into large, arrow-shaped flying machines, speed trains and the like has become all but second nature to those of us who travel often, the hollow feeling of uncertainty will probably never quite be shaken.

2013 seems to have been a particularly tragic year for travel, with a number of fatal accidents making headline news.

Here’s a round-up:

Luxor hot air balloon crash, 26 February

(Christopher Michel, Twitter)

Taking a hot air balloon ride over the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor is an item high up on many-a-traveller’s bucket list. Sadly, a balloon carrying 21 tourists caught fire and exploded 300 metres above ground earlier this year, killing 19 of those onboard. According to an AFP report, the tourists came from all over the world, including Korea, Japan and Britain.  

The incident put a huge dampner on Egypt’s already wonky tourism industry. A ban was placed on ballooning in this area shortly after the accident, and only lifted two months later.

Lion Air flight 904, 13 April  

(AFP Photo / Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency)
Indonesian low-cost carrier, Lion Air was left shame-faced when it came to light that an inexperienced pilot was responsible for one of their jets overshooting the Bali airport runway and landing in the shallow waters. 

Miraculously all 130 passengers onboard as well as the crew survived the accident, but it was still a traumatic experience for all involved.

"The aircraft was in landing position when suddenly I saw it getting closer to the sea, and finally it hit the water," Dewi, a passenger who sustained head wounds in the crash, told The Associated Press. "All of the passengers were screaming in panic in fear they would drown. I left behind my belongings and went to an emergency door. I got out of the plane and swam before rescuers jumped in to help me."

Asiana Airlines Flight 214, July 6  


In a scarily similar crash landing to Lion Air mentioned above, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 slammed into the runway of San Francisco International Airport while trying to make the notoriously difficult descent.

The Boeing 777 was packed with more than 300 people, of which survivors were forced to escape by sliding down the emergency inflatable slides and into a trail of metal debris as flames tore through the plane.

Sadly, two people died during the crash and another 180 were rushed to various hospitals with serious injuries.

Terrifying CCTV footage of the crash was recently released, showing the aircraft overturning a couple of times. 

Spanish train crash, 24 July

(Oscar Corral / AFP)

Spanish people were left devastated when a passenger train hurtled off its tracks close to the famous pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela, killing 77 and injuring more than 140. Four carriages were overturned and piled on top of each other like an accordion in the crash.

The train had left Madrid and was heading for the town of Ferrol as the Galicia region was preparing celebrations in honour of its patron saint James. While no specific cause has been identified, one of the two drivers was under police surveillance, as a photo he had posted on Facebook at an earlier stage showed a train speedometer going at 200km/h. Below the photo he wrote the caption: "I am on the edge, I can't go faster or else I will be fined."

As with the Asiana Airlines crash, CCTV footage released shortly after the accident sheds some light on the exact happenings of the terrible day. 

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport fire, 7 August

(Sayyid Azim / AP)

While fortunately no passengers or airport staff were injured during the incident, the massive fire that broke out at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi earlier this year had a major knock-on effect for many African travellers.

The airport serves as a regional hub for east Africa, with many long-distance international flights landing there to connect to countries across the region. It’s an especially important hub for African business travel.

The entire arrivals building was gutted in the fire, causing regional flights to be diverted to other airports close by, while international flights were cancelled, only to be resumed a day later.  Although many suspected an act of terrorism, the Kenyan government confirmed that the fire was indeed caused by an electrical fault.

Ground has been broken in the meantime for the construction of a brand new terminal.

Russian plane crash, 17 November

(Nikolai Alexandrov / AP)

Well, if the plane crashes highlighted in this article are anything to go by, it would seem like landings are certainly the most crucial moment of any flight. In a third crash landing incident this year, a Boeing 737 belonging to a regional Russian airline plunged to the earth, killing all 50 people on board.  

Reports following the incident suggested that it had been a pilot error, as the plane had lost speed in a steep climb then overcompensated and sent the plane into a near-vertical dive.  

The report drew its conclusions from data retrieved from one of the plane's on-board recorders. It said the climb and the subsequent plunge lasted only about one minute.      

Mozambique Airlines crash, 30 November

When a Mozambique Airlines plane carrying 34 passengers en route to Angola didn't make it's ETA, authorities in both Mozambique and Angola started suspecting that something might have gone wrong. 

The wreckage of the aircraft was found a few hours later in the Bwabwata National Park in northeastern Namibia after villagers close by reported explosions to local authorities. All the passengers on board were killed. The European Union banned the Mozambican airline, known by the acronym LAM, from flying in its airspace in 2011.  "Significant safety deficiencies" led to the blacklisting of all air carriers certified in Mozambique, the EU said at the time.
Read more on:    travel  |  air crashes  |  travel international

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