Seconds From Disaster

The BEST episodes of Seconds From Disaster

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Accounts of famous technological disasters and their subsequent investigations.

Last Updated: 4/28/2022Network: National Geographic
Killer Quake (Kobe Earthquake)
39 votes

#1 - Killer Quake (Kobe Earthquake)

Season 2 - Episode 6 - Aired 8/30/2005

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?

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Skywalk Collapse
44 votes

#2 - Skywalk Collapse

Season 3 - Episode 1 - Aired 1/10/2006

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.

Deepwater Horizon
38 votes

#3 - Deepwater Horizon

Season 5 - Episode 5 - Aired 4/15/2012

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.

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Fire on the Ski Slope
43 votes

#4 - Fire on the Ski Slope

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired 8/31/2004

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?

Norway Massacre: I Was There
38 votes

#5 - Norway Massacre: I Was There

Season 6 - Episode 1 - Aired 7/22/2012

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.

Disco Bombing (The Bali Bombing)
38 votes

#6 - Disco Bombing (The Bali Bombing)

Season 2 - Episode 8 - Aired 9/20/2005

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.

Flood at Stava Dam
39 votes

#7 - Flood at Stava Dam

Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired 10/12/2004

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

Wreck of the Sunset Limited
46 votes

#8 - Wreck of the Sunset Limited

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired 8/10/2004

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.

Pearl Harbor
71 votes

#9 - Pearl Harbor

Season 4 - Episode 2 - Aired 9/12/2011

On December 7, 1941 Japanese forces attack United States military installations in and around Pearl Harbor, thus bringing the US into World War II.

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Meltdown in Chernobyl
77 votes

#10 - Meltdown in Chernobyl

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired 8/17/2004

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.

Superstore Collapse
99 votes

#11 - Superstore Collapse

Season 3 - Episode 11 - Aired 9/20/2006

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?

40 votes

#12 - 9/11

Season 4 - Episode 1 - Aired 9/5/2011

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.

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Mount St. Helens Eruption
38 votes

#13 - Mount St. Helens Eruption

Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired 7/26/2005

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?

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Comet Air Crash
40 votes

#14 - Comet Air Crash

Season 3 - Episode 14 - Aired 11/15/2006

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.

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Crash of the Concorde
79 votes

#15 - Crash of the Concorde

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired 7/6/2004

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.

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Runaway Train (Paris Train Crash)
38 votes

#16 - Runaway Train (Paris Train Crash)

Season 2 - Episode 11 - Aired 11/1/2005

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?

Waco Cult
37 votes

#17 - Waco Cult

Season 5 - Episode 4 - Aired 4/1/2012

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.

Aircraft Carrier Explosion
38 votes

#18 - Aircraft Carrier Explosion

Season 3 - Episode 8 - Aired 8/15/2006

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.

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Jonestown Cult Suicide
38 votes

#19 - Jonestown Cult Suicide

Season 6 - Episode 2 - Aired 11/5/2012

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.

Nairobi Bombing
35 votes

#20 - Nairobi Bombing

Season 3 - Episode 5 - Aired 6/27/2006

Al Queda struck again on August 7, 1998. In Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, a truck bomb destroys the U.S. Embassy buildings killing 257 and injuring thousands.

Bhopal Nightmare
37 votes

#21 - Bhopal Nightmare

Season 4 - Episode 6 - Aired 10/10/2011

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.

King's Cross Fire (London's Subway Inferno)
10 votes

#22 - King's Cross Fire (London's Subway Inferno)

Season 3 - Episode 4 - Aired 5/19/2006

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.

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Space Shuttle Challenger
39 votes

#23 - Space Shuttle Challenger

Season 3 - Episode 18 - Aired 1/31/2007

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?

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Collision at 35,000 Feet
36 votes

#24 - Collision at 35,000 Feet

Season 4 - Episode 4 - Aired 9/26/2011

On July 1, 2002 a cargo airliner and a passenger airliner collide while they are over Überlingen in Germany. The two aircraft crash, killing all on board.

Explosion in the North Sea
40 votes

#25 - Explosion in the North Sea

Season 1 - Episode 10 - Aired 10/5/2004

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?