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Disaster Area

Jennifer Matarese

A podcast about disasters throughout history - what caused them, how people survived, and how we've responded to keep those disasters from happening again.

1:25:55 | Jul 31st, 2018

It was the deadliest building fire in United States history, twice as deadly as the fire which tore through the city three decades earlier. Chicago thought it had seen the worst that fire could do, but then came the afternoon of December 30, 1903. Th...Show More

1:09:56 | May 6th, 2018

Children of the 80s know their pop culture touchstones - when the Challenger exploded, when the Berlin Wall came down, that time everyone was wondering who shot J.R. One particular 80s moment was a story of survival by a Texas toddler, an incident wh...Show More
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1:22:11 | Nov 26th, 2017

Until September 11, 2001, one aviation accident between two 747s was the deadliest aircraft crash by far, and only one of the planes just barely managed to make it off the ground. On March 27, 1977, everything that could go wrong did go wrong, one af...Show More

40:52 | Nov 1st, 2017

Who doesn't enjoy a good haunted house? Six Flags Great Adventure had one such haunted house in 1984. The Haunted Castle contained a winding corridor of spooky sights, flashing lights, and costumed actors ready to give you a fright. On May 11, 1984, ...Show More

44:55 | Oct 6th, 2017

When the woman cried out, what she said was, "Fight!" But what the congregation of Shiloh Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, heard that Friday night in 1902 was, "Fire!" The panicked crowd rushed for the front door, and within ten minutes dozens would...Show More

1:04:29 | May 1st, 2017

On the last day of Pride in 1973, the Up Stairs Lounge in New Orleans felt like it always did. The Sunday beer bust was in full swing, patrons were discussing an upcoming charity event, and the gay bar repeatedly busted out their anthem, "United We S...Show More

1:08:20 | Jan 16th, 2017

It was a beautiful day to visit Kings Island in Ohio, and church groups poured from buses to enjoy the rides and games. One of those groups, the Radcliff Assembly of God and their friends, would travel home that night on a school bus with a fatal fla...Show More

1:31:57 | Dec 26th, 2016

The morning of January 12, 1888, towns across the Great Plains of the United States encountered relatively warm weather for an area experiencing a frigid winter. But the afternoon would bring a nasty surprise at about the same time as children were b...Show More

1:03:35 | Nov 2nd, 2016

Texas A&M's annual bonfire was meant to symbolize their burning desire to beat the hell out of the University of Texas at Austin's football team. But in 1999, Bonfire never burned. Instead it collapsed underneath the feet of several dozen students wo...Show More

2:10:11 | Sep 20th, 2016

When children die in a disaster, it's the worst of tragedies. When children die due to the diabolical work of a man with dark intentions, it's even worse. May 18, 1927, was a typical spring day in Bath, Michigan, until a pair of explosions broke the ...Show More

1:04:21 | Sep 7th, 2016

Keren and Assaf Dror thought May 24, 2001 would be the happiest day of their lives, and it was -- up until the floor collapsed at the wedding hall where hundreds of friends and family were dancing together in celebration.

1:10:17 | Jun 19th, 2016

It's one of the biggest American disasters you may never have heard of. On April 23, 1940, over 200 people died when the Rhythm Club caught fire in Natchez, Mississippi. But one of the most lethal fires America's ever seen has slipped through the cra...Show More

1:12:47 | Jan 20th, 2016

On April 15, 1989, thousands of British football fans flocked to Sheffield to see the F.A. Cup semi-final game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Ninety-six never made it home.

1:12:35 | Sep 19th

They were some of the best and the brightest in British football. In the mid-to-late 1950s, the Busby Babes were young talented players signed on to Manchester United F.C. by manager Matt Busby to mold into a winning side. And win they did, creeping ...Show More

50:12 | Aug 30th

It was a normal working Saturday at the docks in Hoboken, New Jersey - until it wasn't. After the cotton bales on pier three caught fire so very close to barrels of oil and turpentine, every ship docked along the waterfront was under threat, and not ...Show More

41:53 | Aug 1st

With World War II raging on throughout Europe, those civilians who were merely trying to survive in their day-to-day lives in southern Italy were on the brink of starvation. They needed food, and to find some they opted to hop a freight train to the ...Show More

46:15 | Jul 31st

Feeling hot this summer? It could be worse. In January of 1719 during the Great Northern War, six thousand troops from the Swedish army began what should have been a two-day walk back over the Norwegian border to their own empire, mentally and physic...Show More

1:13:18 | Jul 19th

One country said it was a tragic mistake during wartime. One country claimed it was a deliberate and heartless act. But one thing was true - whether it was one or the other, the shootdown of Iran Air Flight 655 took the lives of 290 innocent people i...Show More

1:07:02 | Jun 27th

It's time for the yearly school trip - no, not to Washington, DC, or the Grand Canyon or New Orleans. In 1986, as every year before it, the kids in the Basecamp program at Oregon Episcopal School participated in a special trip - a climb up Mount Hood...Show More

1:26:53 | Jun 18th

It's 1942, and it's men in uniform and women in pretty dresses everywhere you go. Tonight's you're at the Cocoanut Grove, arguably the most popular supper club in Boston. The decor matches the name, with a tropical theme and fake palm trees surroundi...Show More

1:07:28 | May 29th

In two weeks, it will have been three years since a man walked into Pulse in Orlando, FL, bearing a rifle and intent on turning the last day of that city's Pride week into the last night many in the popular gay nightclub would ever see.

53:07 | May 24th

It was something you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. On June 5, 2009, a spark caught on the other side of the wall of the ABC daycare center in Hermosillo, Mexico. On that side of the wall, a growing fire. On the other side, over a hundred and for...Show More

52:59 | May 1st

There's only a half an hour before the end of the school day, and your teacher is working through her final lesson - geography, geometry, Shakespeare. Then you think you smell something - a whiff of smoke. The room starts to warm up. In only a few sh...Show More

1:19:39 | Apr 23rd

All it would take was one spark. The southeastern Australian state of Victoria was dried out and temperatures were tipping into the high forties Celsius. In early February of 2009, the region could burn so very easily. Everyone knew February 7th was ...Show More

52:17 | Apr 12th

There are certain things you don't want to see out the window when you're sitting on a plane that's taking off. Seeing pieces of the plane fall off - like, say, the engine - are pretty high up on the list. Passengers sitting on American Airlines Flig...Show More

52:53 | Apr 1st

What do you do when your home is no longer safe enough to be a home anymore? You try to find a new home, even it means hurrying things along for your own protection. The Jewish refugees on board the MS St Louis in May of 1939 were looking for just su...Show More

54:49 | Mar 29th

You're driving along on a road trip and your engine starts to smoke. You give it another half mile or so, then pull over. By the time you pop the hood, the smoke has turned into actual flames spewing out of your car somehow. So you back away as far a...Show More

1:24:08 | Mar 21st

It was a little slice of Vegas transplanted to a Kentucky hillside just outside of Cincinnati, an elegant showcase for the likes of the Rat Pack, Marilyn Monroe, Liberace, and Frankie Valli. The Beverly Hills Supper Club went from a mafia-run illegal...Show More

1:19:05 | Mar 9th

In late January of 1959, ten hikers left the city of Sverdlovsk heading for an adventure in the wilderness. Only one of them returned alive. So what happened to Igor Dyatlov and the other eight hikers who died at what would later come to be known as ...Show More

43:41 | Feb 22nd

N'Dolo Airport could not have been any worse of an airport to take off from in 1996 if it tried. Whether it be the pitted runway or the handwaving of appropriate documentation and procedures, flying out of N'Dolo was a nightmare, one which anyone wit...Show More

40:44 | Feb 16th

It was almost like a terribly kept secret. The Top Storey Club sat hidden away on the topmost story of an old warehouse you needed to wander through furniture workshops and storerooms on lower floors to reach, like a princess in a tower. But on May 1...Show More

1:25:54 | Feb 8th

It was the worst manmade explosion in human history prior to the bombing of Hiroshima. On December 6, 1917, Halifax, Nova Scotia, was one of the busiest ports in the world, with wartime traffic passing through on a daily basis. The French ship, the M...Show More

42:55 | Jan 25th

Hear ye, hear ye! Come one, come all, on the evening of May 2, 1845, to see a fantastic sight! Nelson the clown of the Cooke Royal Circus will be performing for you all on the river Bure in Great Yarmouth - floating along on the tide in a wooden wash...Show More

50:30 | Jan 1st

The river was a sewer - almost literally. In 1858 London, the Thames wound through the city carrying everything from fecal matter to slaughterhouse offal. Even worse, that was the city's drinking source. If three separate cholera outbreaks weren't en...Show More

33:50 | Dec 28th, 2018

For the 100th episode of the podcast, we examine a genuine Christmas miracle, in which the bad guys lose, one man wins, and Twinkies survive an entirely different kind of disaster than we thought they would.

1:19:51 | Dec 21st, 2018

If you're afraid of flying, it's usually a more understandable fear - bad weather may bring your plane down, your pilot might screw something up, something on the plane might break. But a much more unlikely fear might be that someone on board might d...Show More

1:25:21 | Dec 12th, 2018

Every year, three million Muslims arrive in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to complete the hajj, an important series of rituals which must be undertaken by all physically and financially capable Muslims at least once during their lifetime. But three million pe...Show More

52:42 | Nov 1st, 2018

The MGM Grand hotel and casino sat in a plum spot right along South Las Vegas Boulevard in the glittering city of - surprise - Las Vegas, Nevada. Hosting Dean Martin roasts and a long-running performance of Jubilee!, the MGM Grand featured the height...Show More

34:32 | Oct 31st, 2018

The Gente Inocente nursery in Janauba, Brasil, was small and poor but filled daily with happy children. Then, on October 5, 2017, a familiar face came to the front gate. It was the night watchman, and he wanted to come inside. But what seemed innocen...Show More

1:18:20 | Oct 30th, 2018

The Sunshine Skyway bridge was a well-known piece of Florida architecture, carrying vehicles back and forth across Tampa Bay and allowing ships to pass underneath in the bay's busy shipping channel. But on May 9, 1980, a sudden and ferocious storm br...Show More

1:03:13 | Oct 19th, 2018

On April 10, 1968, Cyclone Giselle hit New Zealand at the worst possible - when the ferry TEV Wahine was returning to Wellington with over seven hundred passengers. The Wahine entered Wellington Harbor as the storm raged around it, and for a moment e...Show More

57:24 | Oct 10th, 2018

The women were - to say the very least - incredibly pissed. In recent years, their rights had been whittled away, leaving their status a husk of what it had once been. Their complaints were either ignored by men in power, or not worth sharing with th...Show More

31:12 | Sep 29th, 2018

All they wanted was a ride to JFK International Airport. But on May 16, 1977, the passengers waiting on the rooftop of the Pan Am Building in midtown Manhattan to get onto a helicopter shuttle to the airport would miss their flight, all due to a sing...Show More

50:33 | Sep 27th, 2018

It was quiet in the rural Australian ski village of Thredbo, New South Wales, at 11:30 PM on the night of July 30th, 1997. Then the ground near Bobuck Lane began to tremble. A moment later, the hillside slid downward, taking two ski lodges containing...Show More

58:41 | Sep 18th, 2018

Let's go back almost four hundred years to a time when sailing ships steered their way across the oceans of the world, whether it be for travel, exploration, or war. In Sweden, King Gustav II Adolph wanted four new ships be added to the country's nav...Show More

1:15:50 | Aug 31st, 2018

In 1921, a ship dropped four white men, one Alaska Native woman, and one cat off on the desolate shore of Wrangel Island, a strip of land just north of easternmost Siberia. Two years later when a relief ship finally broke through the ice and returned...Show More

1:05:56 | Aug 20th, 2018

Moore, Oklahoma, had the worst luck. Over the course of fifteen years, the Oklahoma City suburb would have five major tornados blow through the area, causing billions of dollars in damage. One in particular which struck on May 20, 2013, caused anothe...Show More

1:05:50 | Aug 9th, 2018

On this International Cat Day, we look back at the story of a leopard whose feeding habits veered away from its normal prey into the human world, and a hunter determined to stop its deadly eight-year spree in northeastern India.

1:08:45 | Jul 20th, 2018

Four years ago this week, a plane full of innocent people just going about their lives - returning home, heading for vacation in Malaysia, flying to an international AIDS conference in Melbourne - unwillingly became a pawn in a war they played no par...Show More

1:01:41 | Jul 12th, 2018

During the sweltering Easter holidays in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1992, the Reforma district reeked for days. Everything smelled of gas, but no one could figure out precisely where the source was. Tap water stank. Manhole covers rattled where they sat...Show More

59:18 | Jun 30th, 2018

Neerja Bhanot was uniquely successful in two fields - as a model, and as a senior purser for international airline Pan Am. But on September 5, 1986, the bravery of Neerja and her cabin staff was tested when a group of armed militants stormed the plan...Show More

57:00 | Jun 23rd, 2018

It would take the worst terrorist attack in modern times to steal the Joelma Building fire's title as the deadliest high-rise fire. On February 1, 1974, the office building in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, was slowly filling with hundreds of employees ...Show More

1:04:55 | Jun 19th, 2018

It was only supposed to last a few hours. All they would have to do was keep quiet, keep their heads down, and wait it out until they reached Houston. But at two AM on the morning of May 14, 2003, the driver of a truck would pull over near a truck st...Show More

1:09:04 | Jun 10th, 2018

Graniteville, South Carolina, is like a lot of small towns - quiet and filled with hard-working people. It was the quiet that was broken when a moving train struck another train parked on a spur in the early morning hours of January 6, 2005, and it w...Show More

1:16:00 | Jun 1st, 2018

It was hot that day in August of 1966, so hot you probably could have cracked an egg and cooked it on the sidewalk. Students walking the campus of the University of Texas at Austin did so under the watchful eye of the main building's tower. As noon n...Show More

51:03 | May 28th, 2018

On a busy Friday morning in 1975, the London Underground was packed with people heading off to work at insurance and banking companies. In one six-car train on the Northern Line, driver Leslie Newson was just having a normal workday, with plans to go...Show More

1:04:01 | May 18th, 2018

Forty-two years. That's how long one man spent in prison for setting the deadly fire at the Pioneer International Hotel in Tucson, Arizona, just after midnight on December 20, 1970, when the place was packed with holiday tourists and Christmas partyg...Show More

37:15 | May 1st, 2018

In the aftermath of a disaster, a company's care team may step up to do the things you're not physically, emotionally, or mentally ready to do for yourself.

52:24 | Apr 24th, 2018

Some plane crashes may make you terrified any plane you get one will crash. Only one may scare you into worrying the roof of your airplane may rip right off in midflight.

34:45 | Apr 17th, 2018

What's the worst day at work you've ever had? It probably wasn't nearly as bad as what happened to one Louisiana oil rig's employees in November of 1980.

1:13:57 | Apr 8th, 2018

One can only imagine how scary the scene might be for two small children. The village they hid in was being destroyed by explosions and gunfire. A strange man swore he would protect them and carry them to safety. As he attempted to take them away, th...Show More

1:43:11 | Apr 1st, 2018

In the early 1990s, the country of Rwanda struggled through growing tensions between the local ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis. The Hutus led the government, while the Tutsis were targets of harrassment and discrimination. Over the course of ...Show More

44:51 | Mar 15th, 2018

Some plane crashes have possible causes which are so out of the ordinary they stretch the limits of credulity. The accident which happened when a plane fell from the sky while attempting to land in the Democratic Republic on the Congo in 2010 is just...Show More

1:02:28 | Mar 1st, 2018

The black servicemen who loaded munitions onto ships at Port Chicago Naval Magazine knew it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened. They were hardly trained, rushed to load ships heading for the Pacific theater in World War II, and ...Show More

1:05:40 | Feb 23rd, 2018

He was a teacher and a veteran. On August 20, 1982, an argument over a badly repaired lawnmower motor from the previous day would result in a massacre which left eight dead.

58:23 | Feb 19th, 2018

Sometimes when planes crash, it's due to the tiniest hidden flaw which causes incredible amounts of destruction after a series of one mishap after another. One microscopic flaw led to the failure of the tail-mounted engine on a DC-10, and the damage ...Show More

40:19 | Jan 23rd, 2018

In wartime, terrible loss of life is expected - but usually not due to a series of ridiculous screw-ups. On January 31, 1918, a fleet from the British Royal Navy left a Scottish port in the Firth of Forth with the intention of leaving for exercises i...Show More

1:19:57 | Dec 31st, 2017

Working on an oil rig in the North Sea has its frustrations, its problems, and its dangers. In July of 1988, employees on the Piper Alpha platform were looking forward to having to work around construction as problem areas in the rig were updated - p...Show More

51:08 | Dec 12th, 2017

In most cases, we can trust the ground beneath our feet. We expect it to be solid, to hold firm, and to not move when we stand on it. Some places we can expect earthquakes, but most of the time we don't expect to look out the window and see the very ...Show More
ARCHIVED: The podcast creator has made this episode no longer available for listening.

41:06 | Nov 30th, 2017

When someone says a mass shooter was "going postal," the term goes back to a series of workplace shootings in the United States postal service going back to the mid-1980s. The deadliest of those took place in Edmond, Oklahoma, when an unsettling midd...Show More

41:07 | Nov 30th, 2017

When someone says a mass shooter was "going postal," the term goes back to a series of workplace shootings in the United States postal service going back to the mid-1980s. The deadliest of those took place in Edmond, Oklahoma, when an unsettling midd...Show More

51:34 | Nov 23rd, 2017

Imagine you went to work every day terrified today would be the day the building would fall down around your ears. That was what it was like working in the CTV Building in Christchurch, New Zealand. Then in September of 2010, the earthquakes began. A...Show More

41:29 | Nov 17th, 2017

Yaroslav Kudrinsky was just taking his two kids on their first international vacation. But there was one notable aspect to their trip - Kudrinsky would be flying the plane. Captain Kudrinsky was part of the flight crew flying one of the company's new...Show More

46:47 | Nov 15th, 2017

We all know what it's like when there's a bug going around. More than a few people call in sick from work. Every time you cough someone says, "Oh, my sister just had that." When you go to the pharmacy, all of the medicines you need are sold out. In M...Show More

1:00:33 | Nov 8th, 2017

It was just supposed to be a fun night of dancing to a jazz orchestra just like every other Friday in West Plains, Missouri. But on a rainy Friday the 13th in April of 1928, a dangerous secret lurked in the garage on the first floor, one which threat...Show More

1:07:12 | Nov 4th, 2017

In 2014, one South Korean high school sent its students off on a trip to the resort island of Jeju. The kids could have fun with one another and take a little break. But on the morning they were to arrive in Jeju, one wrong move by the helmsman shove...Show More

49:32 | Oct 31st, 2017

Most of us have jobs, and whether they be our dream jobs or just something to pay the bills we just hope that when we go to work, we stay safe. But on April 24, 2013, garment workers at factories located in an eight-story building in Bangladesh start...Show More

54:38 | Oct 29th, 2017

You don't expect a lake to just explode. But in 1986, Lake Nyos in Cameroon did exactly that on a hot August night, sending a jet of water skyward. The water wasn't the problem, however. The real problem was a mysterious something which killed over 1...Show More

45:51 | Oct 25th, 2017

On a hot summer night in 2015, a water park near Taipei hosted a party which drew thousands looking for a good time. But the party included an added ingredient which threatened the lives of hundreds of attendees.

1:27:40 | Oct 21st, 2017

On September 1, 2004, hundreds of students of all ages arrived with their families at School No. 1 in Beslan, North Ossetia-Alania, Russia for the start of the school year. The first day of school was a celebration punctuated with music, poems, and v...Show More

44:02 | Sep 30th, 2017

Imagine what you could do when you were seventeen. Would you have been able to handle surviving a plane crash in the middle of nowhere? Or would you have been able to get up after the crash and start walking toward where help will hopefully be, even ...Show More

1:02:33 | Sep 28th, 2017

Fifteen years ago this week, one of the deadliest shipwrecks ever happened just off the coast of western Africa. The MV Le Joola was an integral part of life in Senegal. The ferry regularly traveled along the coastline between the capital of Dakar an...Show More

52:55 | Sep 21st, 2017

It started with an argument, the kind of argument you might see at any nightclub or bar on any given night. A man tried to get his ex-girlfriend to give him another chance. She told him no. Angry, he made a grab for her. One of the bouncers saw, and ...Show More

1:11:04 | Sep 16th, 2017

Something was burning down by the Texas City waterfront on April 16, 1947. Everyone in the growing town built on the petrochemical industry could see the plumes of smoke billowing upward from whatever was on fire. There was just one strange thing -- ...Show More

26:39 | Sep 4th, 2017

In part two of our AIDS epidemic series, we look at the misinformation and bigotry which negatively impacted the struggle to identify and fight the virus. This includes the misleading story of "Patient Zero," and the Reagan administration's highly pr...Show More

57:46 | Aug 29th, 2017

This weekend, Hurricane Harvey struck the east coast of Texas and flooded the city of Houston. A hundred and seventeen years ago this week, a similar storm was headed straight for the nearby city of Galveston, one of the richest cities in the country...Show More

55:15 | Aug 17th, 2017

Who wouldn't like to go on a sightseeing flight? Have a glass of champagne, mingle with your fellow sightseers, and peer down in wonder at the glorious sights below. But for Air New Zealand Flight 901, the November 28, 1979, flight wouldn't end with ...Show More

18:12 | Aug 4th, 2017

In this short first entry in our series on the AIDS epidemic, we see the very beginnings of the AIDS virus -- not in the late 1970s, but in a jungle in Cameroon at the turn of the 20th century. We also look at a few early cases of HIV infection prior...Show More

1:04:30 | Jul 27th, 2017

Most of us have been to a sporting event at one time or another in our lives. In this day and age, we can spot the safety improvements which have been added the stadiums and arenas due to tragedies which struck in the past: fire doors with lit EXIT s...Show More

1:05:35 | Jul 17th, 2017

It's 1925 and you leave the house on a Wednesday morning three weeks before Easter ready to go to work delivering mail in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. While passing near a rural field in your horse and buggy, you see the telltale swirl of a newly...Show More

1:25:20 | Jun 26th, 2017

The San Francisco-Oakland area had baseball fever. Both of their teams -- the Giants and the Athletics respectively -- would go up against one another in Game Three of the "Battle of the Bay" World Series. People across the country tuned in at 5:00 P...Show More

1:03:31 | May 31st, 2017

It was always busy at the McDonald's restaurant on San Ysidro Boulevard. Kids invaded the play area whether or not they'd eaten in the restaurant, and for people arriving from the Tijuana border crossing only a mile south, the golden arches were like...Show More

1:16:14 | May 28th, 2017

You're the engineer on an empty troop train in the middle of the night in 1918, headed west to pick up more soldiers meant to head off to the war in Europe. You've had little sleep but you've eaten well and taken some pills for your kidneys. Almost a...Show More

57:03 | May 16th, 2017

They say God never gives you more than you can handle. On January 13, 1982, He sure as hell attempted to do so to the city of Washington, DC. Snow cascaded from the sky, making driving home from work to the suburbs a treacherous undertaking. At Natio...Show More

1:00:03 | May 8th, 2017

The harrowing video aired on a loop around the world -- a passenger airliner gliding down toward the sea near a tourist-filled beach, then tumbling over and over as it struck the water. What happened in Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 in the hours prio...Show More

1:22:09 | Apr 13th, 2017

The name conjures up images of the bare skeleton of a ghost town, swallowed in smoke and haunted by the spirits of its past. But Centralia was once a normal small Pennsylvania town full of hard-working Americans who just wanted to live safely in thei...Show More

51:37 | Mar 23rd, 2017

It towered over Commercial Street in the North End of Boston, its massive form looming over the elevated train tracks and Engine #31 firehouse. It groaned loudly every time it was filled, its contents leaking in an absurd mockery of bleeding. It word...Show More

1:06:13 | Mar 6th, 2017

Heavy rains soaked the Norwegian Labour Party's youth camp on Utøya that Friday in July of 2011. What might have otherwise been a miserable day was lightened by a visit from former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. The campers -- all smart, capab...Show More

45:22 | Feb 20th, 2017

Dust seems so harmless most of the time ... annoying, sure, but not deadly. However, on December 22, 1977, dust would lead to the sudden and tragic destruction of a Louisiana grain elevator, taking the lives of 36 people only days before Christmas. H...Show More

31:57 | Feb 8th, 2017

Creeping tendrils of smoke particles and sulfur dioxide wound their way through the fog already blanketing London on the evening of December 5, 1952. When it infiltrated the harmless fog, those dangerous invaders turned the mist into a lethal smog so...Show More

48:20 | Feb 2nd, 2017

In the vein of My Favorite Murder, this episode features one of Jennifer's hometown murders: a mass shooting which happened at a time when mass shootings were still fairly uncommon. They were an unlikely family: one man, four women, and their childre...Show More

49:05 | Jan 24th, 2017

The Halloween party thrown by the Macedonian Association in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1998 was a popular event -- far too popular. Teenagers crammed in shoulder to shoulder with barely enough room to dance. Everyone wanted to get in, but some who couldn...Show More

1:07:27 | Jan 7th, 2017

August 31, 1986, was a beautiful day to fly the skies over the neighborhood of Cerritos in Los Angeles. William Kramer was on his way to Big Bear Lake in his Piper Cherokee with his wife and daughter. Aeromexico Flight 498 was about to land after a m...Show More

53:28 | Dec 31st, 2016

Marten Hartwell was a bush pilot in the wilds of northern Canada tasked with an emergency medivac flight to Yellowknife. He and his three passengers never made it. But Hartwell did end up rescued alive from the wilderness a month later, and with a ha...Show More

1:41:46 | Dec 24th, 2016

This week, Jennifer found a wine she likes (a first!) so she's taking a break from researching the next episode to watch Dante's Peak, where everything is made up and the facts don't matter. Except for Pierce Brosnan being a gorgeous magical creature...Show More

1:25:49 | Dec 17th, 2016

Sunday dawned warm and sunny in the Cascade mountain range. Hikers and fishermen savored the beautiful weather that morning, sure they were far from the danger they knew had been rumbling for weeks now. But at 8:32 AM on May 18, 1980, an earthquake s...Show More

1:07:09 | Dec 9th, 2016

When LaMia Flight 2933 crashed in Colombia in November, the possible causes echoed a crash which occurred almost twenty-seven years ago in New York. Avianca Flight 52 came down on a slope in Cove Neck, Long Island in comparative silence, not bursting...Show More

1:10:09 | Dec 4th, 2016

On December 6, 1989, a man carrying a dark plastic bag containing a long object walked into the main building of Ecole Polytechnique, a suicide note in his pocket and hate for women in his heart. An hour and a half later he and fourteen women would b...Show More

56:20 | Nov 28th, 2016

Love Parade was meant to be a celebration of peace, love, and understanding. The German electronic music festival was known for loud techno, colorful costumes, and sexual openness. But in 2010, the enormous event at an old freight station in Duisburg...Show More

1:22:27 | Nov 24th, 2016

This year is the 50th anniversary of the tragic events in the quaint mining town of Aberfan in south Wales. Days of heavy rain and an underground spring combined to turn a hillside tip into a dark sludge which slid down and plowed through the Pantgla...Show More

51:19 | Nov 13th, 2016

On this episode, Jennifer uses the Movie Break she saved up for a special occasion to cap off a ridiculously awful week and watch "Airplane vs. Volcano." Keep liquor and the Internet Movie Database handy. If you can pronounce the name of the Icelandi...Show More

1:17:08 | Oct 25th, 2016

The worst single-plane loss of life in aviation history occurred on August 12, 1985, when a 747 loaded with holiday travelers crashed in the mountains near Mt. Fuji. The reason: A simple repair with a dangerous flaw.

2:07:15 | Oct 9th, 2016

At first, people who wandered over from Washington Square Park thought someone was throwing sack of shirtwaists out of the ninth floor windows of the Asch Building. But it quickly became apparent to the watching New Yorkers that these weren't bags of...Show More

55:43 | Aug 21st, 2016

Captain Carlos Dardano and his crew performed an exceptional feat of airmanship when their brand-new 737 lost both engines while landing over New Orleans during a violent thunderstorm.

47:31 | Aug 9th, 2016

For fuck's sake, Jolene. Jennifer revisits the "let's watch a nice educational TV movie about what'll happen when the Russians nuke us" genre by watching "The Day After." You know, the cheerful one.

1:31:23 | Aug 7th, 2016

Released in 1976, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot told the tragic story of the sudden loss in a November storm of a freighter hauling iron ore pellets to Detroit. The SS Edmund Fitzgerald went down with a loss of 29 crewmen a...Show More

1:21:11 | Jul 14th, 2016

On September 13, 1987, two thieves in the city of Goiania in Brazil sneaked into what was left of an abandoned clinic and stole what they thought was simply scrap metal they could sell for a few extra bucks. Instead, their theft led to a radioactive ...Show More

35:42 | Jun 1st, 2016

When a plane went down in the Santa Clara Mountains in California in December 1987, only the smallest of clues were left behind for the NTSB and FBI to piece together to find out what (or who) killed 43 people.

1:13:50 | May 25th, 2016

This week, Jennifer takes an episode off and stays sober to watch "Twister," because who needs to get drunk when you've got magical tank tops, slightly less creepy than normal clown dolls, and omnipotent cell phones?

1:34:17 | May 18th, 2016

The Port Arthur historical site in Tasmania is a beautiful place with a tragic history tied into Australia's founding by shipping convicts into the country. The penal colony at Port Arthur saw suffering, violence, and grief, but over a hundred and fi...Show More

2:22:23 | Apr 28th, 2016

Over nine hundred men, women, and children died in 1978 in a small settlement in Guyana established by the People Temple, a church which presented itself as representing the ideals of racial equality, social justice, support of the elderly and childr...Show More

1:49:58 | Apr 3rd, 2016

Fifteen seconds of sparks given off by pyrotechnic gerbs, two different layers of flammable soundproofing foam, no sprinklers, obstructed exits, and a panicked crowd combined to leave 100 concertgoers dead at the Station Nightclub in West Warwick, RI...Show More

2:21:37 | Mar 16th, 2016

"Rugby players eat their dead." Spotting this bumper sticker encouraged director Frank Marshall to take on the film version of "Alive," the book by Piers Paul Read about the crash of Flight 571. After the plane went down in the Andes on Friday the 13...Show More

1:20:11 | Feb 22nd, 2016

Jennifer takes a break from the usual podcast to drink a few hard root beers and talk about one of her favorite movies of all time, "The Poseidon Adventure." In this episode, she talks about the plot hole that eats characters in the original book, em...Show More

59:50 | Feb 17th, 2016

When the Kansas City Hyatt Regency opened in 1980, its beautiful atrium with walkways which appeared to float on air impressed the entire city. But in July of 1981, the skywalk's fine reputation came crashing down - literally.

1:07:12 | Jan 31st, 2016

Every year, Western Electric contracted excursion boats to take employees to the annual picnic, from Chicago to Michigan City, IN. In July of 1915, one ship would never leave the wharf.

1:18:15 | Jan 8th, 2016

On July 6, 1944, thousands of people arrived at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Hartford, CT, to enjoy the festivities. Then the sidewall caught fire.

08:55 | Dec 31st, 2015

Welcome to the first episode of "Disaster Area," a podcast focusing on disasters throughout history. In this initial episode, host Jennifer Matarese introduces herself, shares what she will and won't be discussing in each episode, and gives some idea...Show More