What separates a disaster from an accident is that we can generally see disasters coming -- like a hurricane, or an overconfident jock facing a scrappy underdog. And in just about every accident that's happened in recorded history, humanity has needed to find someone to blame, only to be blueballed by tragedy. Well, worry no more. We've got some finger pointing to do.
6The Titanic Crew Were Warned About Icebergs
The great cruise liner Titanic was doomed from the beginning, if for no other reason than the fact that it was dubbed "unsinkable" by people who have clearly never seen the effect of water on metal (read: rust) in their lives. That was apparently the karmic equivalent of trying to make toast in the shower before work, because sure enough, the Titanic sunk.
What makes this pretty awful is that the ship's crew should totally have known about the impending iceberg, but were trying to field more incoming messages than a Comcast customer service line the week after a particularly heavy thunderstorm. Lost among the "Wish You Were Here!" notes were warnings sent out to every ship in the vicinity of a huge field of icebergs.
Unfortunately, they were all sent to spam by the radio operator.
Several hours before the ship bumped into its Celine-Dion-scored doom, another ship, Mesaba, had sailed through the same area. Upon seeing Jack Frost's idea of a honeymoon location, they sent out a message to all ships in the region (including the Titanic) warning of a "great number [of] large icebergs." With that, they considered their job done, and hoped that nobody was foolish enough to ignore their message.
The crew of the Titanic had received all of the messages sent by Mesaba. Unfortunately, several days beforehand, the ship's radios had broken, leading to a massive backlog of messages to be received, transcribed, and hand-delivered to their respective passengers. And unlike so many of those texts from a clingy ex, many of these messages required replies. All in all, the crew was going through about 250 messages per day -- so about the same amount of daily texts from that clingy ex. One of the radio operators eventually collected the Mesaba's message for delivery. However, he didn't realize how important a giant field of icebergs would be, and ignored it until he'd finished his other deliveries.
"Meh. If it's important, then they'll send it again."
At the post-sinking inquiry, it was determined that the failure of the crew to deliver this message to the bridge had directly led to the ship's sinking. After all, binoculars are all well and good, but the best way of avoiding an icy grave is to not go there in the first place. Although being "unsinkable" couldn't have hurt, either.
5The 1970 Yungay Avalanche
As far as avalanches go, most of them are cooler than the Chevrolet version. The Yungay Avalanche of 1970 is not one of those. As one of the deadliest avalanches in history, it wiped out the Peruvian town of Yungay, killing most of its 20,000 residents. Triggered by an undersea earthquake, an apocalyptic wave of rock, ice, and mud travelling at 120 mph smashed into the town. And all of this could have been avoided if the government had listened to a pair of mountaineers who warned them about this exact same thing eight years earlier.
David Bernays and Charles Sawyer were climbing the nearby Mount Huascaran when they noticed a large amount of loose bedrock underneath a glacier that was imaginatively called "Glacier 511." Knowing how this area was prone to earthquakes -- as it happens, this particular glacier was responsible for another earthquake in 1962 -- they returned to civilization and began warning everyone they could find.
If only they didn't wait 'til the end of their damn vacation photo slideshow to tell everyone.
Proving that the media has never known how to report the news properly, they exaggerated Bernays and Sawyers' warning like they were teenagers deciding on a condom size, with some claiming that the "mountaineers and scientists" had predicted a "Dante-esque" and "gigantic" avalanche. Like we said, teenagers deciding on a condom size.
Understandably, the government wasn't happy with Bernays and Sawyer. Believing the media's hype, they ordered the pair to take back their story or face prison time, because it's simply easier to give an "lol jk" about the forthcoming snowpocalypse. They also ordered the panicked residents of Yungay to return to their homes and place their faith in God. Which was handy, because anyone still placing their faith in the mountaineers was prosecuted for "disrupting public tranquility."
Plus, if they were right after all, the residents could just sue God for the same thing.
Understandably, Bernays and Sawyer left the country. Several years later, the public tranquility was disturbed by something much worse than proto-clickbait and incompetent governance.