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Disasters in 1969


Aftermath of the Gatwick plane crash January 5 An Ariana Afghan Airways Boeing 727 crashed into a home while attempting to land at Gatwick, England, in low visibility conditions. The plane was carrying 53 passengers and nine crew, of whom only 14 survived. The couple living in the house were both killed but their baby daughter was miraculously found alive in the wreckage by a police officer.

January 13 A Scandanavian Airlines System DC-8 crashed into Santa Monica Bay while attempting to land at Los Angeles (California) International Airport, killing 15 of the 45 persons aboard. [contemporary news account]

January 18 A United Airlines Boeing 727 crashed into Santa Monica Bay soon after taking off from Los Angeles (California) International Airport, killing all 38 persons aboard.

February 18 A "gamblers special" returning 35 persons from Hawthorne, Nevada, to Burbank, California, crashed into Mount Whitney (near Los Angeles, California); all aboard were killed.

February 24 A Far Eastern Air Transport twin-engine prop jet crashed about 10 minutes after taking off from Tainan, Taiwan, killing all 36 persons aboard.

Maracaibo residents rush toward their burning homes March 16 A Viasa DC-9 crashed into a heavily populated suburb of Maracaibo, Venezuela. All 84 persons aboard the airplane were killed, as were at least 71 on the ground.

Maracaibo residents rush toward their burning homes.

March 20 A United Arab Airlines IL-18 exploded while landing at Aswan (United Arab Republic) Airport, killing 100 of the 105 persons aboard.

April 21 An Indian Airlines Fokker F-27 crashed while approaching Khulna, East Pakistan, killing all 44 persons aboard.

June 4 A Mexican Airways jet crashed and burned on a mountain in Monterrey, Mexico, killing all 79 persons aboard, including tennis star Rafael Osuna and Mexican political leader Carlos Madrazo.

July 12 All 35 persons aboard a Royal Nepal Airlines DC-3 died when their plane caught fire and crashed near Hetauda, Nepal.

July 30 Two light airplanes collided over Boise, Idaho, killing six persons (the pilot and passenger of one plane, pilot and three passengers of the other). One of the planes crashed 50 feet from a nursery school and the other narrowly missed a residential district.

Remains of the Allegheny Airlines DC-9 September 9 A single-engine Piper Cherokee being flown by a student pilot on a solo cross-country flight hit the tail section of an Allegheny Airlines DC-9 in the air near Shelbyville, Indiana. The student pilot and all 82 persons aboard the DC-9 were killed.

Investigators sift through the wreckage of the Allegheny Airlines DC-9.

September 12 A malfunctioning automatic direction finder caused a Philippine Air Lines jet to crash while making an instrument landing at Manila, Philippines; 45 of the 47 persons aboard were killed.

September 20 A U.S. Air Force F-4 fighter jet and an Air Vietnam DC-4 collided in the air over Da Nang, South Vietnam. The fighter jet was able to land safely, but all 75 persons aboard the passenger plane and 2 persons on the ground were killed.

December 3 An Air France Boeing 707 crashed into the Caribbean Sea soon after taking off from Caracas, Venezuela, killing all 62 persons aboard.

December 8 All 90 persons aboard an Olympic Airways DC-6B crashed into Mount Pan, near Athens, Greece, during a storm.


February 25 A flash fire broke out on the third floor of a five-story ofice building in New York City, New York. Eleven persons died, many of them trapped in an elevator.

June 22 An ammunition train exploded in Hanover-Linden, West Germany, killing 12 men.

destruction in Noel, Missouri
destruction in Noel, Missouri
August 3 One person was killed and about 100 others injured when two explosions aboard a freight train demolished much of Noel, Missouri. [contemporary news account]

top: Smoking debris marks the blast scene in Noel, Missouri. Some of the houses damaged by the explosion can be seen in the far background.
bottom: Virgil Bentley looks at an 800-pound freight car wheel that flew three blocks before crashing into the living room of his house.

August 21 The el-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was badly damaged by fire. An Australian Christian who later admitted to setting the fire was convicted of arson and committed to an asylum.

Smoke pours from the el-Aqsa Mosque.

el-Aqsa mosque

December 2 A fire in a home for the aged killed 38 persons in Notre-Dame-du-lac, Quebec, Canada.


Fire on the stern of the Enterprise
A jet fighter burns on the USS Enterprise
January 14 Fire swept the flight deck and portions of the interior of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise after a Zuni rocket attached to an aircraft detonated. Twenty-eight sailors were killed and 314 were injured;15 jet fighters were destroyed. The ship was conducting pre-deployment exercises off Pearl Harbor at the time of the accident. [contemporary news account]

top: Fire on the stern of the Enterprise.
bottom: A jet fighter burns on the USS Enterprise.

February 8 High waves and strong winds swamped the Philippine interisland ferry Cotabato III. At least 11 of the 138 persons aboard were killed and 52 were reported missing.

March 13 The Soviet fishing trawler NR 4553 and Panamanian tanker Esso Honduras collided off North Carolina. Little damage was suffered by the tanker,but the trawler and its crew of more than 20 went down.

April 6 The Nationalist Chinese freighter Union Faith collided with an oil barge being pushed by the tug Warren Doucet on the Mississippi River at New Orleans, Louisiana. The subsequent explosion and fire sank the freighter, killing 25 of the crew and damaging the Greater New Orleans Bridge.

May 29 Two men were reported dead, 11 missing, and 45 hurt when the Canadian cargo ship Tadoussac slipped from the ways about 15 minutes before its scheduled launching in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada.

June 2 During a SEATO exercise in the South China Sea, the Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne sliced the U.S. destroyer Frank E. Evans in two. Seventy-four crewmen aboard the Evans were killed.

Rescue ships and helicopters work to remove survivors from the stern of the Frank E. Evans.

Stern of the Frank E.Evans after the ship was cut in two

July 24 The Norwegian tanker Silja collided with the French passenger ship-cargo ship Ville de Majunga, exploded, and sank in the Mediterranean. Two persons were reported killed and 18 others missing from the Silja.

November 5 The Liberian oil tanker Keo with 36 men aboard broke in two off New Jersey. Seven bodies were recovered in two days of searching, and the other men were presumed dead.


January 23 An explosion in a gold mine near Welkom, South Africa, killed 15 men.

March 31 An estimated 183 miners were killed in a coal mine at Barroterán, Mexico, when a gas explosion blocked all six exits, preventing their escape and rescue.

April 2 An explosion in a coal mine at Hokkaido, Japan, killed 18 miners and injured 27 others.

November 7 An explosion in a gold mine 100 miles southwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, killed 60 miners; 31 men were rescued.

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The Robinson Library >> In The Year... >> 1969

This page was last updated on October 15, 2017.