The media has become a particularly strong communication method to inform the world about what’s going on everywhere, wherever you may be. In an era where any event can go viral in seconds, an infinite amount of information can get to you in a minute -whether it’s about a Nobel Peace Prize nomination or the arrest of a serial killer.
However, what happens when your home loses its comfort suddenly because of a devastating earthquake, a plane crash, or a war forcing you to flee?
As a Canadian, I can only imagine what it could feel like, and I certainly can’t get close to the reality of it. Disasters, whether triggered by Mother Nature or by humanity, itself, seem to be falling upon the Earth day after day, killing and injuring thousands of people at a time.
In 2015, there have been, so far, quite a few tragedies. Planes have crashed, the earth’s core has moved to detrimental effects, and humans have killed each other in the name of greater beliefs, and some other times, for personal motives. S
So we can never forget, here are the 10 biggest tragedies of 2015.
10. Charlie Hebdo Attack
On the morning of January 7, the world woke up with a gory, tragic shooting in Paris. The French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo based inFrance had been attacked by Yemen’s Al-Qaeda branch as payback for an illustration of Allah that the newspaper had published many years ago. Eleven people were killed and 11 were injured during the attack on the media outlet. Then, the gunmen – who were two brothers- killed a policeman and five Frenchmen around the country, and injured 11 other people. The killers were shot down in Dammartin-en-Goële, after they took hostages and exchanged fire with the police, on January 9.
9. India Heat Wave Kills More Than Two Thousand
The heat wave started on May 21 and ended on June 19 in India. It recorded temperatures between 45 and 48 Celsius degrees everyday. Black asphalt roads were melting. Major power outages were reported due to massive use of air conditioners. Because of heat strokes, 2,500 people died. Typically, the moonsoon season in India makes the temperatures rise between March and July each year, peaking in April and May.
8. Hundreds Of Migrants Killed In Sinking Ship
A large search-and-rescue operation was deployed by the Italian Government to save the lives of illegal migrants from Libya aboard a capsized ship on April 21 in the Mediterranean sea, close to Sicily. The 20 foot CP-920 ship boarded almost 1,000 people, but couldn’t hold half that size. It capsized after the captain tried to dodge a merchant vessel, which caused a panic movement in the crowd of refugees, putting the ship off-balance. Twenty-seven people were saved, among them the captain and other members of the crew. It is estimated that about 800 people died in the tragedy.
7. TransAsia Airways Flight 235 Crashes On Highway
On February 4, 37 seconds after taking off and reaching an altitude of 1,200 feet, the TransAsia Airways Flight 235 crashed on a highway in Taiwan. The right engine had failed before the pilot turned off the left one, manually. He was planning on restarting the engine, but couldn’t. When one engine fails on a plane, it automatically goes into gliding mode, which usually allows the pilot enough time to get it back to the airport. However, this time, because the left engine was shut off as well, the plane couldn’t glide and crashed on the highway, and continued its way into a nearby river. Of the 58 people on board, only 15 survived.
6. Germanwings Flight 9525 Crashes Into The French Alps
On March 24, Germanwings Flight 9525 departed from Barcelona–El Prat Airport in Spain and was en route to Düsseldorf Airport in Germany – but it never reached its destination. The plane left the airport at 10:01 a.m, and reached its cruising speed and altitude at 10:27. At 10:31, it started its descent towards death, loosing altitude really quickly (58 feet per second). At 10:41, the plane crashed into the French Alps. All 150 people on board were killed.
The crash was executed by the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, who had been diagnosed as unfit for work because he was severely depressed and suicidal. He had kept the information for himself and never informed his employer. After the incident, many countries implemented a new regulation that two authorized people must be present in the cockpit at all times, in order to prevent such tragedies from ever happening again.
5. Earthquake In Nepal
On April 25, an earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter Scale hit Nepal, injuring 23,000 people and killing around 9,000. The violence of the shock triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, which killed at least 19 people. About 250 others disappeared. Many UNESCO World Heritage Sites were destroyed, such as the Kathmandu Durbar Square, the Patan Durbar Square, the Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the Changu Narayan Temple and the Swayambhunath. Villages were flattened and hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless.
On May 12, another earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 occurred closer to the Chinese border, injuring another 2,500 people, and killing more than 200.
4. Amtrak Train Derails In Philadelphia
On May 12 (same day as second Nepal Earthquake), a train from the Amtrak Northeast Regional traveling from Washington D.C. to New York City, derailed in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) believed that the derailment was accidental, but thought that the train might have been hit by a projectile just before the crash. Officials also believed that the accident could have been prevented by a computerized speed-regulation program that wasn’t activated around that area at that moment because of maintenance. Of the 238 passengers and 5 crew members on board, 8 were killed and over 200 were injured.
3. Warehouse Explosions Kill Over A Hundred In China
A series of explosions on August 12, which killed 159 people and injured nearly 800 others, occurred at a container storage station at the Port of Tianjin. The first two explosions occurred within 30 seconds of each other at the facility and burned all through the weekend, triggering 8 other explosions on August 15. The Chinese public security bureau confirm that “over 40 kinds of hazardous chemicals [were stored on site]. As far as we know, there were ammonium nitrate and potassium nitrate. According to what we know so far, all together there should have been around 3,000 tonnes.” The cause of the explosion has not been confirmed yet, but its assumed that some chemicals in a container exploded.
2. Reporter And Cameraman Killed Live On TV
On August 26, former reporter at WDBJ Vester Lee Flanagan II, also known by the professional pseudonym of Bryce Williams, murdered his ex-colleagues Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27, her cameraman. The duo was interviewing Vicki Gardner, executive director of the local chamber of commerce, near Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, Virginia. During the interview, Flanagan walked in with a gun, fired on Parker while she was running away, and then shot Ward. His camera fell on the floor, still filming as the shooter went after Parker. Flanagan shot himself during an ensuing car chase with the police. He later died at a local hospital.
Flanagan’s motive for the shooting was his claims of racial discrimination by WDBJ, and specifically against Parker and Ward. Apparently that, while working with Parker during her internship at WDBJ, she had made a racist remark regarding a friend of his who lived on Cotton Hill Road, and Ward had filed a complaint against Flanagan to WDBJ’s human resources department after working with him on one occasion. The murdered lost his job and accused the duo of being behind it, but Flanagan was known for his diva behavior and for verbally abusing female coworkers on several occasions.
1. The Refugee Crisis
The Refugee Crisis, also known as the European Migrant Crisis, started in April 2015 when five boats sank in the Mediterranean sea (among them is the one we covered at number 8 of this article), which killed around 1,200 refugees coming mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea. The refugees are fleeing their countries due to violent conflicts in North Africa and Middle East, seeking asylum into European countries. The number of forcibly displaced people worldwide reached 59.5 million at the end of 2014, the highest level since World War II.
The most recent event that went viral in the media was the death of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean sea. Because Kurdi’s family was trying to reach Canada, his death immediately became an issue in the 2015 Canadian federal election, forcing the government to promise the welcoming of more refugees.