The BEST Episodes of Seconds From Disaster
Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!
Last Updated: Mar 15, 2020
Network: National Geographic
Blending advanced CGI, re-enactments, archival footage, forensic science, dramatic eyewitness accounts and expert testimony, we recreate in gripping detail the final moments behind some of the most calamitous disasters of modern time. Seconds From Disaster reconstructs the events leading up to the Paddington rail collision in London, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and one of the world's worst industrial accidents, in Bhopal, India. Blending advanced CGI, re-enactments, archival footage, forensic science, dramatic eyewitness accounts and expert testimony, experience first-hand, the gripping details of the final moments behind some of the world's most chilling disasters.
#1 - Killer Quake (Kobe Earthquake)
Season 2 - Episode 6 - Aired Aug 30, 2005
On 17 January 1995, the Japanese city of Kobe was rocked by the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which destroyed buildings and killed over 1000 people and left thousands homeless. Why couldn't the top of the art equipment predict a disaster of this magnitude?
#2 - Fire on the Ski Slope
Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired Aug 31, 2004
November 11, 2000, started out as a normal day at the Kaprun ski resort in Austria, as a Furnicular train climbing the slopes breaks down in a tunnel. Passengers then realise it's on fire. Only 12 make it out alive, leaving 155 people to die horribly. But how could such a modern train break down and catch fire?
#3 - Deepwater Horizon
Season 5 - Episode 5 - Aired Apr 15, 2012
A look at the series of decisions and mistakes that led to the world's largest oil spill disaster, and that 11 workers on the rig died.
#4 - Skywalk Collapse
Season 3 - Episode 1 - Aired Jan 10, 2006
On 17 July 1981, 1,500 people had gathered for a dance in the Hyatt Regency Hotel when, in a catastrophic disaster, the skywalk collapses killing 114 people and injuring countless others in the worst US structural failure.
#5 - Norway Massacre: I Was There
Season 6 - Episode 1 - Aired Jul 22, 2012
On July 22, 2011, a gunman goes on a terrorist rampage – starting with an explosion in Oslo and ending with the slaughter of dozens of teenagers.
#6 - Flood at Stava Dam
Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired Oct 12, 2004
On July 1985, Italy's Stava Dam collapses and demolishes 70 structures killing 268 people in the process. Was there a fault in the design of the dam? Is this something that could happen to any dam around the world? Find out how a structural failure leads to a massive catastrophe with Flood at Stava Dam
#7 - Disco Bombing (The Bali Bombing)
Season 2 - Episode 8 - Aired Sep 20, 2005
Bali, located in Indonesia, is one of the most popular resorts in the world. But 202 die on the night of October 12, 2002, Muslim terrorists detonate several bombs in local nightclubs. Its the horror of 9/11 all over again.
#8 - Wreck of the Sunset Limited
Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Aug 10, 2004
September 1993. The captain of a towboat unwittingly causes the collapse of a bridge over the Big Bayou Canot. When an Amtrak train comes along, it derails with 47 lives lost. Why was such a hideous mistake made? How could it have been prevented? Could it have been prevented at all? Wreck of the Sunset Limited explains why over 40 people died that Autumn day.
#9 - Pearl Harbor
Season 4 - Episode 2 - Aired Sep 12, 2011
On December 7, 1941 Japanese forces attack United States military installations in and around Pearl Harbor, thus bringing the US into World War II.
#10 - Meltdown in Chernobyl
Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired Aug 17, 2004
We make mistakes every few seconds of our lives. They are unavoidable. But sometimes the results can be disastrous. On April 26, 1986, a series of catastrophic blunders leave dozens dead when the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant melts down.
#11 - King's Cross Fire (London's Subway Inferno)
Season 3 - Episode 4 - Aired May 19, 2006
On the night of 18 November 1987, a harmless match produced a small flame on the escalator at King's Cross tube station. Suddenly, the containable flame explodes rapidly into a fireball. It charges up the escalator and kills 31 people in the ticket hall 20m away. The inferno leaves investigators stumped. When the answer is revealed, it will shock everyone, adding a new chapter to the laws of fire dynamics.
#12 - Mount St. Helens Eruption
Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired Jul 26, 2005
Mount St. Helens, in the countryside of Washington State, has been dormant for 123 years. But on May 1980, it suddenly erupts, killing 57. Why couldn't they predict it?
#13 - Superstore Collapse
Season 3 - Episode 11 - Aired Sep 20, 2006
On 29 June 1995, the five story Sampoong Department Store in Seoul, Korea, collapses killing 502 people. Is there a fault in the building? Or is sabotage to blame? And how did the last survivor survive under the rubble for 16 days?
#14 - Aircraft Carrier Explosion
Season 3 - Episode 8 - Aired Aug 15, 2006
The massive aircraft carrier USS Forrestal is sailing to Vietnam on July 29, 1967, when a fighter jet explodes, a massive blast rocks the ship, and in just 17 hours 134 men lose their lives. Was it hostile fire, human error, or a fault in the fighter jets.
#15 - Waco Cult
Season 5 - Episode 4 - Aired Apr 1, 2012
After a 51-day siege at the ranch of an armed religious cult, the FBI tries to force people out with tear gas, but a fire breaks out and almost 80 people die.
#16 - Comet Air Crash
Season 3 - Episode 14 - Aired Nov 15, 2006
The DH Comet is the first jet airliner and the pride of the British Overseas Airways Corporation. But on January 10, 1954, BOAC Flight 781, enroute from Rome to London, explodes catastrophically and crashes, killing 35 people. The investigation begins, but when South African Airways Flight 201 crashes exactly the same way taking another 21 lives, all Comets are grounded and the investigation takes a step forward.
#17 - 9/11
Season 4 - Episode 1 - Aired Sep 5, 2011
On September 11, 2001 two aircraft are deliberately flown into two buildings of the World Trade Center and one is flown into the Pentagon. Another crashes in a field in rural Pennsylvania.
#18 - Runaway Train (Paris Train Crash)
Season 2 - Episode 11 - Aired Nov 1, 2005
In what was no doubt the worst rail incident in French history, a runaway train derails at Gare De Lyon Station, France, killing 56 people. Why did the train crash so horribly? Who is to blame?
#19 - Fire in the Cockpit
Season 6 - Episode 3 - Aired Nov 12, 2012
On September 2, 1998, a fire broke out on Swissair Flight 111 while in-flight, damaging vital systems and causing the aircraft to crash into the sea off Peggy's Cove with no survivors. The fire was caused by faulty wiring in the onboard first class entertainment system.
#20 - Crash of the Concorde
Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Jul 6, 2004
Behind every disaster lies a chain of events. The Concorde was the world's first supersonic airliner, but on a charter flight to New York, 109 people are on board an Air France Concorde as it takes off from Paris. But as it lifts off the runway, the control tower notices flames trailing behind the aircraft. They can do nothing. The Concorde becomes uncontrollable and plows into a hotel in nearby Gonesse. 113 people are killed in the accident. The dream that was Concorde is shattered and the aircraft is grounded. What happened to Air France Flight 4590 could shatter the aviation industry as we know it.
#21 - Space Shuttle Challenger
Season 3 - Episode 18 - Aired Jan 31, 2007
On a cold winter day in 1986, space shuttle Challenger takes off from Cape Canaveral to start Mission 51-L. 73 seconds later, Challenger's boosters explode and send it into the ocean in pieces. What happened? Was a fault to blame? Or was there ice on the shuttle?
#22 - Explosion in the North Sea
Season 1 - Episode 10 - Aired Oct 5, 2004
July 6, 1988. The Piper Alpha stands over 110 miles off Scotland. But on this fateful day, a gas leak causes a catastrophic fire with a loss of 167 workers. Why did the Piper Alpha explode without warning? Was Human Error to blame? What about Mechanical Failure? Or even sabotage?
#23 - Jonestown Cult Suicide
Season 6 - Episode 2 - Aired Nov 5, 2012
On November 18, 1978, when enigmatic cult leader Reverend Jim Jones calls all his followers together in South America, the resulting tragedy becomes the largest mass murder-suicide of US citizens in history - 909 are dead.
#24 - Hotel Collapse
Season 2 - Episode 9 - Aired Sep 27, 2005
Hotel New World, budget hotel located in Singapore's Little India, collapses on 15 March, 1986. After a 7 day rescue operation, 17 people are rescued but 33 perish. Why did the hotel collapse? Was it sabotage? Or was it faulty maintenance?
#25 - Bhopal Nightmare
Season 4 - Episode 6 - Aired Oct 10, 2011
On December 2, 1984 in Bhopal, India, a toxic gas leak at a Union Carbide chemical plant results in the deaths of 3,000 people.