When it comes to road, transit and building safety problems, the early ’90s saw some of the worst consequences.
Whether you’re looking for a fix of disaster porn or need some perspective on mortality, here are some of Thailand’s deadliest man-made disasters, according to a list compiled at Dek-D and other online sources.
223 passengers and crew died in Thailand’s worst commercial aviation disaster, caused by a pilot’s negligence.
Thailand’s deadliest aviation accident happened on May 26, 1991, when Lauda Air Flight 004 from Hong Kong to Vienna stopped at Don Mueang Airport to pick up passengers. A few minutes after the plane left Don Mueang, the pilot ignored a warning light on his console.
Turned out the jet’s thrust reverser was deployed, and when the crew found this out, it was already too late.
The plane broke up mid-air and none of its 223 crew and passengers survived.
A memorial for the victims of Lauda Air 004 is located at Phu Toei National Park, Suphan Buri.
207 curious souls killed in delayed detonation at Baan Tung Mapraw.
On February 15, 1991, a truck carrying dynamite to a stone quarry overturned at Baan Tung Mapraw, in Phang Nga province. Local villagers gathered to check the accident without knowing that two hours later the dynamite would explode.
The blast killed 207 people and left 525 injured.
Apart from the high-casualty disaster, Baan Tung Mapraw also has changed from a lively community to a reticent one since then.
188 toymakers burned to death in Thailand’s worst industrial accident.
At least 188 workers died in a fire which injured more than 500 others on May 10, 1993, at the Kader Toy Factory in Nakhon Pathom province. Most were young female workers from rural families. The poorly built factory produced stuffed toys for U.S. brands such as Disney, Mattel and others. It was owned by Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, and despite the number of deaths, the accident received very little international attention.
The fire started during an evening shift, causing workers to leap from windows on the building’s second, third, and fourth floors.
Only 15 minutes after it started, the building quickly collapsed, killing many still inside and those who had already escaped.
137 guests crushed in collapse of Royal Plaza Hotel
The most tragic building collapse took place on the ill-fated morning of August 13, 1993, in Nakhon Ratchasima.
In just 10 seconds, the six-story Royal Plaza Hotel collapsed into a pile of rubble. Inside two conferences were under way at the moment of collapse, and 137 bodies were later pulled from the mess.
Cause? Three years earlier, the owners had doubled the buildings height from three to six stories without official permission.
130 island temple pilgrims drowned in ferry disaster.
On March 8, 1992, a group of mostly Chinese locals was returning to Si Racha from Si Chang island after visiting an animist temple there. While traversing that busy shipping lane, their vessel was hit by an oil tanker and sunk. It’s believed 130 were killed.
101 passengers and crew when Thai Airway International Flight 261 blew its landing in Surat Thani.
Bad weather and poor visibility were blamed for Thailand’s second-worst air disaster on Dec. 11, 1998. After missing its approach twice, the plane attempted a third landing. The plane stalled out and crashed into a forest two kilometers from the airport.
The plane broke into three pieces, but 45 of the 146 people on board miraculously survived, including superstar singer Ruangsak “James” Loychusak.
90 more air crash victims died in plane with exhausted pilots.
One-Two-GO Airline flight 269 was making a second landing attempt on Sep. 16, 2007, at Phuket Airport when it crashed into an embankment, split into two and burst into flames. Ninety of 130 on board died. Of those, 45 were tourists. Most of those who survived said they jumped off the plane just before it exploded.
Thai aviation officials blamed wind; investigators with the NTSB did not. They said corruption led to a cover-up of the fact the pilot and co-pilot had been working far in excess of legal safety limits.
One-Two-GO was banned from flying in the European Union and was rebranded by its owners as Orient Thai Airlines.
80 pedestrians and residents went up in a huge explosion on New Petchburi Road.
At 10pm on the evening of Sep. 24, 1990, an LPG tanker was speeding along New Petchburi Road to beat a red light when another vehicle rammed into it hard. The tanker slid off the road and its two tanks – incorrectly mounted and loaded with highly explosive, pressurized gas – came off the rig.
As the 40,000-liter gas tanks exploded, the nightmare began. A sea of fire caused significant damage. At least 80 people were killed and 51 households destroyed.