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On This Day in Rotten History: March 9

In 1946 – (73 years ago)thirty-three people were crushed to death and hundreds more were injured when crowds got out of control at Burnden Park stadium in Lancashire, England, during a soccer match between the Bolton Wanderers and the Stoke City football club. The game was part of an elimination tournament for the FA Cup, which was being revived after a six-year hiatus due to the Second World War. The stadium and the field, still in bad shape from wartime neglect, were overrun by some eighty-five thousand fun-starved fans. Twenty minutes before kickoff, the authorities were forced to close the entrances. At that point, fans began climbing in over the fences without paying. The crowd got so chaotic that some spectators were literally pushed out the other end of the stadium. After the game finally began, two metal barriers collapsed on top of some spectators, crushing them underneath. Referees halted the game while bodies were pulled out of the wreckage. The dead spectators were laid out next to the field and covered in their own jackets — and the game was started up again. It ended in a scoreless tie.               

In 1967 – (52 years ago) — a TWA jetliner carrying twenty-five passengers from Pittsburgh to Dayton, Ohio, was making its landing approach toward the Dayton airport when it plowed into a small, private Beechcraft airplane operating in uncontrolled airspace. The Beechcraft was pulverized, as were critical parts of the jetliner, which went into an uncontrolled dive and a crash and burn. All people aboard both planes were killed.  Investigators later concluded that the airliner had descended from cruising altitude too fast for its pilots to see the small plane drifting into its flight path. 

In 1976 – (43 years ago) — at the ski resort of Cavalese in the northern Italian Alps, a cable car carrying forty-four Italian, German, and Dutch tourists was making its way down from the top of a mountain when the steel cable snapped. The cable car fell some seven hundred feet, hitting the mountainside, and it was immediately crushed by the three-ton overhead carriage assembly that landed on top of it. One passenger, a fourteen-year-old girl, somehow survived. The other forty-three people, including fifteen children, were all killed. Though inspectors had recently found the cable mechanism to be in good shape, an inquiry after the accident found signs of severe stress on the cables, which was attributed to lack of proper maintenance and unsafe operation in high winds. A safety mechanism would have shut down the cable car in dangerous weather, but it had been turned off. Four officials of the Cavalese resort were found guilty and sent to prison.

(Twenty-two years later, in February 1998, another twenty cable car riders at the same mountain were killed when a hot-dogging US military pilot flew his NATO jet too low, severing the cable and sending the car crashing down the mountainside.)

Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi

Rotten History

 

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