World’s Worst Disasters

DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL – Thursday 7 January, 9.30pm

Using a mixture of rare archive footage and dramatic 3D animated reconstructions, this series shows what happens when natural forces come into conflict with humans – with devastating results. Each episode of this fascinating series focuses on one type of natural disaster, giving examples of some of the largest or most devastating in recent years. From volcanoes, earthquakes, typhoons and avalanches – to ones that us humans may have more of a hand in, such as forest fires and landslides. The disasters featured have occured over 100 years and across all areas of the globe. The levels of devastation are phenomenal – one of the worst avalanches of all time, occurred in December 1916, when 10,000 people were killed in the Italian-Austrian Alps. Much more recently, on Boxing Day 2005, a giant tsunami caused by a massive undersea earthquake hit South East Asia – devastating the landscape, and killing an estimated 229, 866 people. However – this series is not solely about the numbers that have been killed. Some of these phenomena are just simply remarkable, such as in 1896 a giant waterspout (a tornado over water) was sighted offshore from Massachusetts, the most perfect that any sailor had seen. Although powerful, because of its location, did not pose a threat. In many situations, it is the landscape that bears the full force of the blow, changing it forever. The largest eruption in North American history occurred in 1912, when Mount Kaimai transformed an Alaskan valley into a 50 mile square moonscape which has since been used for astronauts for training. As the area was so desolate, no one was killed, however, the landscape serves as a powerful reminder of the force of these natural disasters, proving that we are now and always have been at the mercy of the elements.