The Best Episodes of Seconds From Disaster
Last Updated: Jan 23, 2019
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 - Wreck of the Sunset Limited
Season 1 - Episode 6
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.
#2 - Fire on the Ski Slope
Season 1 - Episode 9
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 - Flood at Stava Dam
Season 1 - Episode 11
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
#4 - Killer Quake (Kobe Earthquake)
Season 2 - Episode 6
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?
#5 - Disco Bombing (The Bali Bombing)
Season 2 - Episode 8
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.
#6 - Skywalk Collapse
Season 3 - Episode 1
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.
#7 - Deepwater Horizon
Season 5 - Episode 5
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.
#8 - Norway Massacre: I Was There
Season 6 - Episode 1
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.
#9 - Meltdown in Chernobyl
Season 1 - Episode 7
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.
#10 - Pearl Harbor
Season 4 - Episode 2
On December 7, 1941 Japanese forces attack United States military installations in and around Pearl Harbor, thus bringing the US into World War II.
#11 - Crash of the Concorde
Season 1 - Episode 1
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.
#12 - Explosion in the North Sea
Season 1 - Episode 10
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?
#13 - Mount St. Helens Eruption
Season 2 - Episode 4
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?
#14 - Hotel Collapse
Season 2 - Episode 9
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?
#15 - Runaway Train (Paris Train Crash)
Season 2 - Episode 11
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?
#16 - Nairobi Bombing
Season 3 - Episode 5
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.
#17 - Aircraft Carrier Explosion
Season 3 - Episode 8
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.
#18 - Superstore Collapse
Season 3 - Episode 11
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?
#19 - Comet Air Crash
Season 3 - Episode 14
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.
#20 - Space Shuttle Challenger
Season 3 - Episode 18
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?
#21 - Eruption on Montserrat
Season 3 - Episode 19
On the Caribbean island of Montserrat is the Soufrière Hills volcano. Nearby is Plymouth, the island's capital. In 1995, Soufrière Hills came to life and spewed ash over the island. Everyone is evacuated to the north of Montserrat. Two years on, the eruptions get worse and in 1997, Soufrière Hills erupts violently. Pyroclastic flows rage down the mountain and destroy Plymouth and Bramble Airport, killing 23 people. It generates a small tsunami. People crowd onto ships to escape their home, knowing it's been destroyed.
#22 - Cable Car Collision
Season 4 - Episode 5
The Cavalese cable car disaster of 1998 (as distinct from a cable car disaster in the same location in 1976), occurred on 3 February 1998 near the Italian town of Cavalese, a ski resort located in the Dolomites, some 40 km north-east of Trento. The disaster, which led to the death of 20 people, occurred when a U.S. military plane cut a cable supporting a gondola of an aerial tramway.
#23 - 9/11
Season 4 - Episode 1
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.
#24 - Paddington Train Collision
Season 4 - Episode 3
On October 5, 1999 two trains collide at Ladbroke Grove junction near London's Paddington station after the driver of one fails to stop his train at a red signal.
#25 - Collision at 35,000 Feet
Season 4 - Episode 4
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.