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Remembering the Manchester Air Disaster 30 Years On

This Saturday marks the 30th anniversary of the Manchester Air Disaster, when 53 people lost their lives as a result of a British Airtours jet catching fire during take-off.  Whilst this was a terrible tragedy in its own right, together with the Bradford Stadium fire a few months earlier, it also marks the start of an extraordinary series of disasters in the UK over a four-year period.  These include:

  • The Herald of Free Enterprise (March 1987)
  • The Kings Cross fire (November 1987)
  • Piper Alpha (July 1988)
  • The Kegworth air crash (January 1989)
  • The Hillsborough Stadium disaster (April 1989)
  • The sinking of the Marchioness (August 1989)

Together these eight disasters claimed the lives of nearly 700 people and impacted on the lives of many, many more.  Whilst analysis of each disaster highlighted specific issues within particular industries; taken together, they also started to inform our thinking more generally about how to manage risk and crises.  One has to suspect that the relative infrequency of such events in the following 25 years is, at least to some extent, the positive result of lessons learned from these incidents.