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Human history is riddled with man-made disasters, from nuclear meltdowns and underwater oil spills to chemical explosions and mine collapses. We find out exactly what happened in some infamous cases – and how humanity played a pivotal role in these events.

The Aberfan Colliery Slip

Big man-made disasters don’t often happen in Britain, which made the Aberfan colliery slip even more shocking. The Welsh Valleys village of Aberfan grew up around the nearby coal mine that was established back in 1869. By 1966, the settlement had grown, and the village was surrounded by seven huge spoil piles – waste material from mining.

Aerial view of Aberfan slip

Aberfan’s mining disaster destroyed a school, houses, and a rail line. (Image credit: UK government )

That’s not necessarily a problem, but in October 1966 the village of Aberfan was hit by more than six inches of rainfall, and caused the seventh spoil pile to subside. At 09.15 GMT on Oct. 21,1966 a vast quantity of saturated debris broke free from the pile and travelled towards the village at speeds between 11 and 21 miles-per-hour (approximately 17 and 34 kilometers)and in waves up to 30 feet (9meters) high, according to the Smithsonian magazine.

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