Corporations can invest a ton in engineering feats. Many top-notch brains can work on one project for companies that are backed by something as big as United Airlines. However, there’s always a possibility that something might go wrong. From billion-dollar submarines which aren’t able to resurface to one-of-a-kind guitars mistakenly thrashed by Hollywood actors, expensive mistakes do happen and they cost companies as much as billions of dollars. A simple email could have easily saved some of these projects but the others were actually doomed from the start.
The Submarine Which Can’t Float
A submarine that cannot float is practically useless. Even though the Spanish government paid more than $2.2 billion for the creation of a state-of-the-art submarine in 2013, they didn’t end up using it due to this very costly mistake. Apparently, the submarine was too heavy to float properly. Engineers figured out that there was a miscalculation but thankfully, the manufacturing of the vessel hadn’t started yet. Nevertheless, the government still spent a staggering amount of money. Numerous news outlets, such as Fox, featured the hiccup.
Trains That Are Too Big
If the skies are ruled by companies like American Airlines, what about the rails? In France, the Metro and railways are heavily used, so the train operator SNCF’s decision to invest in a transportation project seemed like a good idea. However, there is always the possibility of a plan being shoddily executed. In this case, 2,000 new trains which cost over $20.5 billion hit the railways in 2014. However, there was a hitch – the trains were far too wide to safely pass each other on the rails. This mistake cost SNCF nearly $70 million.
Houses Built On Top Of An Abandoned Mine
When buying a home, it is best to double-check if the house is built on a huge, cavernous, abandoned mine. In 2014, a group of residents in South Dakota didn’t check before spending a fortune for their beautiful, newly-built houses. Outlets like CBS picked up the story, which went viral. While mowing his lawn, one resident was shocked when a sinkhole suddenly appeared. A total of twelve families were evacuated. Investigators discovered a massive 600 feet long gypsum mine directly underneath the properties, which rendered the homes completely unsafe – and completely worthless.
The Titanic Sunk
The Titanic was truly a feat of engineering genius back in 1912. Costing $7.5 million ($400 million today), it was indeed a passenger ship the world had never seen before. The Titanic was more like a floating 5-star hotel with its sweeping staircase and stunning state rooms. Sadly, the maiden voyage of the Titanic also became its last. In the evening of April 15th, the ship hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean and sank. In spite of its cost, the Titanic actually had plenty of faults, such as poorly made rivets and only having 16 lifeboats to cater to more than 3,300 people. James Cameron’s award-winning film about the Titanic’s voyage for the studio 20th Century Fox had a box office gross of $200 million in 1997.
Huge Digger Stuck In The Sand
Most of us know that it is an absolute necessity to park our car somewhere safe, so we wouldn’t park our brand new Tesla on the beach. However, someone thought it was wise to try their luck and park a 4×4 Land Rover there. We are not sure why it happened or why that person thought the beach was the perfect parking spot for such an expensive car, but the digger that was sent to get the 4×4 out also got stuck and was completely submerged in the mud and sand for over three days.
The Millennium Bridge Wobbled
Londoners were rightly excited when construction of a new and swanky bridge over the River Thames started in 2000. However, given the staggering $20 million price tag, they didn’t expect it to wobble excessively when they crossed it. The engineers were totally surprised by the flaw as well but they soon realized it was linked to “positive feedback”, which is a phenomenon that occurs when too many people walk across the bridge. To fix it, the engineers asked for $5 million more to fit 37 viscous fluid dampers to “dissipate the energy.”
The Dropping Of The Noaa-N Prime Satellite
In 2003, the Noaa-N Prime Satellite fell off its plate and ended up in the floor. This happened while workers at Sunnyvale’s Lockheed Martin Space Systems were trying to move it to a different position. The drop caused $135 million in damages. Someone had actually forgotten to secure the satellite with the required 24 bolts before lifting it. Lockheed Martin gracefully said that they wouldn’t accept any profit to pay for the costs of the repair and they also covered another $30 million. The United States government shouldered the rest of the costs, but that didn’t go down well.
F-16 Jet Parked At The Wrong Spot
Who hasn’t made mistakes at work? No one if we are being honest. However, have you ever fired a cannon by accident and destroyed a fighter jet worth $15 million? This is exactly what happened at the Florennes Air Force Base in 2018. The details of the incident weren’t made immediately clear, but a maintenance worker in Belgium somehow managed to shoot a Vulcan cannon by accident. It hit a General Dynamics’ F-16, which had been fully-fueled, and the aircraft exploded. Thankfully no one died, but two technicians got injured in the head injuries because of the extremely careless (and costly) mistake. An F-16AM fighter jet nearby was undergoing maintenance when the cannon was fired accidentally and caused the catastrophic damage. There was another nearby plane that was injured, but it was repaired.
A Skyscraper That Melts Cars
Yep, you read that right. The “Walkie Talkie” located in London made headlines when it melted a Jaguar that was parked across from it due to the sun’s reflection. It cost more than $1,000 to fix the Jaguar, but that wasn’t the end of the damages caused by the building’s glare. Nearby businesses said windows actually cracked from the heat, which forced the $250-million-dollar skyscraper to spend an unannounced amount on fitting a massive sunshade to its side facing the south. In an interview with the BBC, the car’s owner, Mr. Lindsay, talked about the damage to his car. He said the Jaguar badge, wing mirror, and panels had been badly melted. “You can’t believe something like this would happen,” he commented.
A Rare 1870s Guitar Is Destroyed
Back in 2015, Kurt Russell co-starred with Jennifer Jason Leigh in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. There is one scene in the film where Russell grabs the vintage guitar that Leigh is playing and smashes it to pieces. Russell had no idea the guitar was a museum piece worth $40,000. The guitar was supposed to be switched out for a cheap dummy in the middle of the scene, but production forgot. The museum was really incensed and they’ve since stopped lending any items out. Talking to Billboard, Leigh said, “When Kurt found out, his eyes literally welled up. It ended up being great for the scene.”
Emergency Slide Inflated Inside The Plane
In 2014, passengers on a Chicago-Orange County flight was shocked when the emergency slide inflated inside the cabin in midair. News outlets reported that passengers heard a hissing sound and noticed the inflatable was getting bigger and bigger. The flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Kansas and the plane itself was taken out of service for the slide to be replaced, costing United Airlines roughly $20,000. Thankfully, there were no injuries.
Priceless Elias Martinez Artwork Destroyed
In 2012, an elderly Spanish dogooder shook the world when they decided to restore Elias Garcia Martinez’s priceless artwork “Ecce Homo” by themselves. Staff of the Santuario de Misericordia were horrified when they saw what had happened to the painting of Christ. The “restoration” may have been done out of kindness, but the result is absolutely bad. The identity of the person who did it was initially shrouded in mystery, but it later came out that 82-year-old Cecilia Gimenez was responsible for “Monkey Christ”. In a documentary, she said, “I thought I knew how to restore it, but the paint ran.”
Explosion Of Piper Alpha
Back in 1988, an Occidental Petroleum (Caledonia) Limited platform exploded because of a PSV flange leak. Several explosions occurred from 9pm to 11.20pm on July 6th, eventually resulting in the total collapse of the platform and damages worth a staggering $1.7 billion. To this day, it is still one of the greatest oil rig disasters of all time. The costs of the Piper Alpha clean up were incredibly high, but so were the insurance claims. Because of the disaster, $1.4 billion was claimed. This created a major headache for Lloyd’s of London, the insurance company. Lloyd’s later revised their policies due to the substantial payout.
Fire Foam Accidentally Released
Airplanes cost a lot, so airlines naturally want to protect their investment. When they store their planes, they make sure there is a fire foam system installed. However, these systems can malfunction and accidentally release fire foam even if there’s no fire. This is a costly disaster, and several military bases have faced this issue, having to cough up hundreds of thousands for unnecessary repair. Back in 2013, Delta Air Lines also had the same issue. Their aircrafts and new hangar got covered for no reason.
A NASA Satellite Blows Up In Space
Imagine spending years of working on one piece of complex machinery and it finally makes it into space, only to disintegrate into nothing. In the 1990s, NASA invested $125 million to build and send the Mars Climate Orbiter into space but they were devastated when they saw it burn up. What’s worse is the fact that it was because of one team (the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) using the Metric System and another (Lockheed Martin’s division) using the Imperial System. Speaking to the LA Times, the director of Space Policy Institute at George Washington University put it best when he said, “That is so dumb. There seems to have emerged over the past couple of years a systematic problem in the space community of insufficient attention to detail.”
An Entire Apartment Block Topples Over
In 2009, the Lotus Riverside Apartment Complex was being built in China when one whole block fell over on its side. Apparently, it happened due to construction of an underground parking garage. The dirt that the workers removed was placed on a nearby riverbank, which collapsed because of the weight of the dirt. Water leaked in and the building’s foundations became unstable, leading them to crumble. During that time, space in the apartment was being sold at $2,000 per square meter. The developers had to start again and also clear the damage. Incredibly, there was only one fatality in the terrible accident despite the incredible size of the apartment block.
The Yacht Of A Saudi Prince Capsizes
For a Saudi prince, nothing can be too fancy. A case in point this luxury 70-meter yacht. However, even princes can’t avoid tragedy. This $65 million dollar yacht was en route to a Greek yard for maintenance when the entire thing keeled over into the ocean. Thankfully, the luxury liner was retrieve successfully from the deep by workers and repairs started in March 2020. The cost to bring the yacht back up to standard is unclear, but it’s probably somewhere near the $30 million mark.
Landslide On The Highway
In 2010, disaster struck in Taiwan when a monumental landslide happened near Highway 3 and completely decimated the highway. It took more than a month to clear the highway, with 100 trucks and 50 excavators pulling away at the mess. The disaster cost the government over $20 million. Local news reported that the highway and the area around it were covered with more than 210,000 cubic meters of debris after the disaster.
Rena Monrovia Strikes A Reef
Some disasters can be avoided, for example, the Rena Monrovia container ship striking the Astrolabe Reef in New Zealand and running aground in 2011. Since the ship had been going at full speed itself, it was largely totalled. As for the cargo, it spilled into the ocean. The company spent $240 million for clearing up the mess. Apparently, the master and crew wasn’t looking where they were going, but the official report indicates “navigation errors” as the cause of the incident.
The Balloonfest ’86 Debacle
In 1985, Treb Heining and his pals came up with the idea of releasing more than 1.5 million balloons above Cleveland. Aside from setting a world record, they would raise plenty of money for charity. Sadly, the organizers hadn’t thought of where the balloons might land. A change in weather resulted in the balloons descending onto local lakes. Two fisherman who were out on that day were reported missing. The search was also greatly hindered by the enormous amount of balloons. Tragically, the fishermen weren’t found alive. One of the wives sued the organizers of the event for $3.2 million while a local equestrian sued them for $100,000 for the damage to her horse.
Deepwater Horizon Explosion And Oil Spill
The drilling rig called Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010, which resulted in the biggest oil spill in history. While 94 workers were successfully rescued from the rig, the fire lasted for several days. BP had to pay more than $65 billion dollars to rectify the huge environmental impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Transocean paid $1.4 billion for violation of the US Clean Water Act. On the other hand, BP faced charges and paid billions in penalties and compensation.
$85 million Worth Of Bitcoins Accidentally Thrown Away
Welsh-born James Howells is a computer whizz who collected 7,500 bitcoins. His little stash was worth more than $85 million. In 2017, Howells told the Telegraph, “After I stopped mining, the laptop I had used was broken into parts and sold on eBay. However, I kept the hard drive in a drawer at home knowing it contained my Bitcoin private keys, so that if Bitcoin did become valuable one day I would still have the coins I had mined.” However, he threw it away by accident when was clearing out.
Dropping An Incredibly Rare Piano
Canadian virtuoso Angela Hewitt trusted the movers she hired to handle her rare, $194,000-dollar piano. However, they dropped it and it smashed into pieces. In her Facebook post, Angela wrote, “The iron frame is broken, as well as much else in the structure and action (not to mention the lid and other parts of the case. It’s kaput. I adored this piano. It was my best friend.” She also mentioned that the movers were totally mortified since it was the first time they experienced anything like that in their more than three decades of. Angela was pleased no one was hurt, but she couldn’t help feeling sad over the loss of such a prized possession.
Ron Wayne Lets Go Of His Shares In Apple
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak are two names often associated with Apple, but there was actually a third man in the picture. In the 1970s, Ron Wayne owned 10% of the company, after coming on board to help the young founders. However, he felt like 10% of the venture wasn’t a safe bet at the time. Wayne was an older man who had assets which could be seized if the business failed. Within two weeks on board, Wayne sold his shares for $800 to Jobs and Wozniak. Today, 10% is worth $95 billion.
George Lucas Gives Up Rights To Star Wars Merch
In 2013, Disney bought the rights to the Star Wars franchise for $4 billion. This means George Lucas gave up the movies and the rights to the Star Wars merchandise. The merch alone has turned over a $3 billion revenue. It is widely known that the notorious filmmaker didn’t profit from selling his incredibly popular franchise. He gave all of the money to a foundation that focuses on educating underprivileged children.
Tokyo Stock Exchange Typo
In 2005, a Mizuho Securities trader accidentally added an extra comma and cost the businesses several hundred millions of dollars. The person ended up selling 610,000 shares for one yen each when he should have sold only one share for at 610,000 yen. By the time they noticed the mistake, it was too late. There was a full-blown investigation launched soon after the incident as the mistake was really embarrassing for everybody involved. “In order to maintain the credibility of the Tokyo stock exchange, I very strongly want this issue to be resolved quickly,” Kaoru Yosano, Japan’s economic director at the time, said.
The Challenger Disintegrates
Back in 1986, five NASA astronauts, along with two payload specialists, were on board the Challenger to go to outer space. Despite the shuttle having completed nine flights already, something went tragically wrong at the time. It disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean in 76 seconds. The cold weather caused the seals to fail. Within seconds, seven lives and more than $3.2 billion were lost. The tragic disaster led to a ban on takeoffs for three years.
Lake Peigneur Sinkhole
Up until 1980, Lake Peigneur was a popular spot in Iberia Parish. Then, the oil drilling above the underwater salt mine began. Suddenly, a massive sinkhole swallowed more than 65 acres of land around the lake, which turned the 10-foot deep water into a giant body of water 200 feet deep. Amazingly, 55 men who were working in the Texaco-operated mine at the time escaped unscathed. Texaco had to pay local businesses more than $50 million in damages.
The Beatles Are Rejected
Before EMI’s Parlaphone, Decca Records were in talks with the band. However, after watching the band perform, Decca’s Head of A&R and very prominent UK music scene figure Dick Rowe allegedly told Brain Epstein that “guitar groups are on their way out.” Rowe declined to sign The Beatles and missed out on the incredibly lucrative band. The Beatles have made billions, and their back catalog alone is currently worth $1 billion. Paul McCartney’s estimated net worth is $924 million.
The 1965 Blackout In The Northeast
On November 9, 1965, more than 30 million people in Ontario, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Pennsylvania were left without power all of a sudden. The entire system failed after something went wrong with the lines’ protective relay failed. Like dominoes, interconnected lines fell. This plunged vast expanses into darkness. Traffic lights failed and businesses were unable to operate. The incident cost more than $6 million in damages and different power plants had difficulty rectifying it.
Brian Acton And Jan Koum Are Turned Down By Facebook
It seems like Mark Zuckerberg can make an oversight as well. WhatsApp developer Brian Acton had applied for a job at Facebook back in 2009 – but was rejected. A couple of months later, he developed and released the messaging app WhatsApp, which has taken the world by storm. In 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp for a staggering $19 billion, which made Acton and Koum extremely rich. However, with a bit more foresight, Facebook could’ve had the developers in-house from the start.
A Controlled Burn Goes Out Of Control
Controlled burns is one way of clearing large areas. However, as we’ve seen in past years, fire can spread. When the Department of Environmental Protection burned woodland in Florida’s Little Manatee River State Park in 2011, they planned to burn only 25 acres. However, the fire got out of control and ended up ravaging 125 acres. It’s not clear how much the accident cost those who were responsible, but it probably wasn’t cheap.
A B-2 Stealth Bomber Crashes
Plane crashes are never cheap. This one was especially costly, though. A B-2 Stealth Bomber nose-dived into the runway soon after it took off at Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base back in 2008. According to investigators, the accident was because of heavy rain which had impaired the plane’s air-data sensors. Amazingly, there were no fatalities, but the aircraft was totaled, racking up more than $1.4 billion in damages. It is the most expensive plane crash ever recorded.
The Trading Loss of Howie Hubler
There was a time when the name Howie Hubler wouldn’t ring any bells, but that all changed after Morgan Stanley lost $9 billion because of him. Back in 2006, he was the Morgan Stanley golden boy. He oversaw a team which made more than a fifth of the company’s profits. The following year, however, the tide began to turn as the housing market started to crash. Hubler believed his system was good, but he was wrong and his decisions alone cost Morgan Stanley $9 billion.
The Vasa Sinks
When the 69-meter long Vasa was launched back in 1628, nobody could have predicted that the ship would sink soon after. There were 145 sailors and 300 soldiers on board. Also, the ship carried plenty of bronze cannons as weaponry. However, the structure was unstable and its design couldn’t handle the weight. Once the strong wind began to hit the ship, the Vasa toppled. Water started to pour into the holes for guns and in no time, the ship sank in the ocean, which cost the army a lot of money. In 1961, the ship was recovered and now serves as one of the most popular items at a museum.
Russia Lets Go Of Alaska
It’s impossible to say how much Russia could’ve made if it hadn’t sold Alaska to the USA back in 1867. However, it’s safe to say Russia would’ve made a lot of money. Alaska was bought for $7.2 million. Its oil and gas industry has managed to produce 17 billion barrels of oil. On the whole, the state’s GDP is $49 billion, which is money Russia could gladly use. However that ship has sailed.
Turning Down Google
Google is among the world’s most lucrative enterprises, valued at almost one trillion dollars. It’s hard to imagine that Larry Page and Sergei Brin nearly sold the business to Yahoo back in 1998 for only $1 million. Thankfully for the two, Yahoo declined. Yahoo is currently worth $10 billion. This just shows that one man’s mistake can be another man’s gain. Larry Page now has $51 billion while Sergei Brin is worth $49 billion.
A Winning Euromillions Ticket Is Thrown Away
In 2018, Lesley and Fred Higgins got a Euromillions ticket, but they were told that they hadn’t won anything when they returned to the store to check the numbers. After the ticket was ripped up, it was thrown in the trash. However, someone discovered the mistake. As a matter of fact, the retired couple had won almost £58 million (roughly $75 million). It was a close call. If the mistake had gone unnoticed, they would’ve kissed goodbye to money that coul change their lives and their entire family’s.
The Edsel Fails
Ford has become a leader in the automotive industry. However, the company isn’t immune to loss. Back in the ‘50s, designers and engineers labored to create the Edsel, which they believed was destined for greatness. Just four years after into production, however, the brand was discontinued. Ford poured hundreds of millions into the line and scored a loss of more than $350 million. In the ‘60s, Edsel went away with little fanfare.
The Prestige Sinks
Oil spills can be extremely dangerous, but their environmental impact is something else completely. While arrying more than 77,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, the Prestige was struck by disaster off the Spanish coast in 2002. One of the tanks burst because of the storm, and without permission to come in, the Prestige ended up sinking. Subsequently, more than 17.8 million gallons of fuel went into the water, which killed wildlife and virtually annihilated the local fishing industry. Cleanup cost more than $2.8 billion.
The Hindenburg Catches Fire And Crashes
By 1937, the airship Hindenburg had completed a year of carrying passengers. American Airlines teamed up with it to transport travelers between Lakehurst and Newark. At the time, it seemed safe enough for everyone, but sadly, they were wrong. On May 6, 1937, while the Hindenburg was mooring in New Jersey, the airship caught fire because of changing winds and other factors. It didn’t take long for the whole airship to be engulfed in flames and it crashed to the ground. The $3 million dollar Hindenburg was completely destroyed while 22 crewmen and 13 passengers perished.
Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster
When a space shuttle does a go-around, there is a slim chance anyone on board would survive. Seven crew members on the Space Shuttle Columbia lost their lives as the shuttle was making its landing approach in February of 2003. When the shuttle was launched, there was actually a piece of foam that snapped off from its tank and hit the shuttle’s left wing. This created a hole in the wing, which started a chain of events that ended with the shuttle disintegrating. The incident cost $6 billion in damages and NASA grounded all launches for the following two years.
Part of Yahoo Is Sold
When Yahoo hired Scott Thompson to be their latest CEO in 2012 they probably didn’t think he would end up costing more than his salary. On the contrary, Scott ended up making one of the most expensive mistakes ever. At the time, Yahoo owned part of Alibaba. Yes, that Alibaba. Even though the company’s value was $30 billion, Thompson decided that Yahoo didn’t need 20% of that and sold their stake. After the sale, Alibaba’s value skyrocketed to more than $300 billion. This means Thompson cost Yahoo $54 billion. As you can imagine, he has since moved on.
Quaker Purchases Snapple
Quaker bought Snapple for $1.7 billion in 1994. At the time, both brands were popular and just the amount of money that was changing hands was truly a sight to behold. Little did Quaker know they would regret their decision in the end. Only three years later, they sold Snapple and Triarc Companies purchased the company for a measly $300 million. Quaker effectively wasted more than $1.4 billion on acquiring a brand that they should have let go to other bidders, such as Coca-Cola.
Terminal At Charles De Gaulle Airport Collapses
Passengers expect many things when they go to the airport, including baggage delays and a limited menu in flight. However, they don’t expect a terminal to collapse. In 2004, a part of terminal 2E collapsed, unfortunately leaving some casualties. Investigators later found some structural problems with the particular terminal, including concrete ceiling issues. Designer Paul Andreu put the blame on the construction companies for not ensuring the safety of the reinforced concrete. It cost $900 million in the end.
A Hyatt Regency Walkway Collapses
In 1981, guests who attended a tea dance at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Kansas City didn’t know they were going to witness a horrific tragedy. Poor upkeep and neglect resulted in two walks collapsing. It is the most fatal accident of its kind in US history. The disaster was truly shocking and it was really costly for the hotel chain. While it isn’t known how much Hyatt had paid out, the amount would’ve been enormous in building costs and legal costs to the unfortunate victims.
Nuclear Meltdown At Three Mile Island
In 1979, there was a partial reactor meltdown at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station. This is the biggest accident of this kind on American soil. There were a series of failures which caused the leakage of coolant from the reactor. The damages reached a whopping $4 billion. The reactor was badly damaged because of the incident and was eventually forced to close. It took 24 years to finish the cleanup. It was very expensive due to the damage it caused. It also cost Exelon Nuclear money in terms of future profits because the reactor needed to be decommissioned.
Sony Purchases Columbia Pictures
Sony shelled out $3.4 billion to buy Columbia Pictures back in 1989. At the time, the studio appeared to be a winning horse as it was among the biggest studios. However, Columbia didn’t actually have much success in the first five years that followed the purchase nor did it have enough breakaway hits to match how much Sony paid for it. Sony lost billions in the first couple of years, but they have kept the company. Since the film business isn’t an exact science, perhaps the mistake righted itself after some time.
The Leaning Of The Tower of Pisa
Today, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most popular tourist attractions in world, but the tower wasn’t actually supposed to lean. First completed in 1372, the tower was already problematic even during its construction in the 12th century. Because of the soft ground, it tilted to over 5 degrees over time. In the early ‘90s, work was carried out in order to rectify it. The tilt has been gradually changed to a little under 4 degrees. It might have been a mistake that cost $4 million, but at least the UNESCO World Heritage Site looks pretty.
The Quebec Bridge Collapses Twice
The Quebec Bridge collapsed back in 1907 – 75 workers were killed and 11 were injured. The cantilever arm of the bridge, half-completed span, and south anchor arm fell into the St. Lawrence River and took the workers with it. An engineer named Theodore Cooper was responsible for the bridge’s collapse in 1907 since its cause, the Chord A9R failure, rested on his shoulders. In 1916, Frants Lichtenberg was informed about a problem with the bridge’s central span six times. However, he ignored the issue. On September 11th, 1916, the bridge collapsed again, killing thirteen workers.
Apollo 13 Oxygen Tank Explodes
When the NASA space mission Apollo 13 was 210,000 feet above the surface of the Earth, the astronauts on board heard a loud bang. At first, they thought it was prank, but they soon realized something was very wrong. The bang actually came from the second oxygen tank that had exploded. What’s more, the first one was quickly losing pressure. The explosion started a chain reaction and within three hours, the oxygen was gone. Luckily, there were no fatalities and Apollo 13 crashed into the Pacific Ocean 87 hours after the second tank’s explosion.
Kansai Airport Sinks
Kansai International Airport is ranked thirtieth among the busiest airports in Asia and was nominated for awards multiple times (Best Baggage Delivery and Best Airport Staff in 2020). However, it is not perfect. Kansai International Airport sank in 2018, after typhoon Jebi struck and seawater flooded the man-made island where the airport is located. The water was really high and reached the engines of the aircraft in the loading bay. While operations resumed more than a month later, the airport was completely fixed much later, in April of 2019.
A Leak In A Dubai Aquarium
In 2010, a massive aquarium (which held hundreds of sharks and a total of 33,000 sea creatures) in a shopping center in Dubai started leaking water. Both the shopping center and aquarium were emergency-evacuated. The aquarium opened as an “indoor ocean” in 2008. The leakage was due to a weakness in the joints of the panel. The aquarium’s maintenance team sprang into action right away, saving the lives of the sea creatures and millions in potential damage.
Mercedes-Benz Purchases Chrysler
In 1998, Daimler-owned Mercedes-Benz bought Chrysler for $37 billion. This deal lasted nine years and Daimler-Benz lost $37 billion. It eventually sold Chrysler to the private equity firm Cerberus for $7.4 billion, which means it took a $30.4 billion loss. There were plenty of reasons Chrysler lost a lot of money, though the main reason was Mercedes realizing it didn’t want its new little brother sharing the luxury market. As a result, Daimler shortchanged Chrysler.
The Molasses Flood In Boston
The Great Molasses Flood happened in the North End neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts on January 15, 1919. A molasses storage tank that belonged to Purity Distilling Company burst and 2.3 million gallons of molasses rushed to the streets, traveling at 35 miles per hour. There were 21 people killed and 150 were injured. According to locals, the smell of molasses lingered in the area for decades. Residents recall hearing something like a thunderclap before the molasses came rushing. This was the sound of the rivets shooting out of the tank during the burst. It took several months to clean the mess with saltwater. Several hundred rescue and cleanup workers worked together to fix the damage.
The Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse
The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge was opened to the public on July 1, 1940. Four months later, the main span of the bridge collapsed and fell into the Narrows. Strong, 42MPH winds caused an aerostatic flutter, which led to the collapse. If there is one good thing that came out of the bridge collapse, it is that it led to new innovations in the design of bridges. One major flaw of the bridge’s design was the solid sides which didn’t allow wind to pass through. No human was killed, but there was one fatality, a Cocker Spaniel named Tubby.
The Collapse Of Savar Building
The death toll in this horrifying collapse was 1,134. There were also 2,500 people who suffered injuries, and it took one whole month to carry out rescue operations. Located in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Savar Building was a garment factory built by businessman Sohel Rana. Not only did he falsify deeds, he also intimidated co-owners to build the factory so he could pad his pockets. The Plaza was built in 2006. In April of 2013, an explosion happened in the building. The engineer who was called in to assess the damage immediately demanded everyone evacuate but Rana refused to let the workers leave. The factory collapsed the day after. Rana faced murder charges but the trial is still pending.
The Denver Airport Baggage Handling System In 2005
The Denver International Airport Baggage Handling System was a computerized system which completely failed, caused delays, and damaged customers’ bags for months. It was introduced in 2005 and scrapped in the same year. The system was supposed to replace airport workers but software failures caused baggage claim to eat passengers’ luggage. Apparently, the network designers underestimated the project’s complexity and didn’t include recovery capacity and backup. The system couldn’t cope with failures. It also couldn’t reboot.
The Skylab Landing In Australia
In May of 1973, Skylab launched. It was designed to be temporary, and NASA engineers planned to decommission it nine years later. However, Skylab came crashing down after six years and landed in Australia like a cannonball (which wasn’t part of the plan as well). In 1978, Skylab started failing because of the rapidly decaying orbit of the station. Months later, NASA fired booster rockets at the station, with the intention of bringing it down in the Indian Ocean. However, the shattered station landed in Australia instead, in the remote town of Esperance.
The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
In 2011, a 46-foot tsunami caused by the Tohoku earthquake flooded the nuclear reactors, circulating pumps, and emergency generators at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Fukushima, Japan. Because of this, cooling was lost in the reactor core. This resulted in three hydrogen explosions and three nuclear meltdowns. For three straight days, radioactive contamination occurred. The radiation caused cancer in one person, who has died from it. The hydrogen explosions injured sixteen people, and two workers were brought to the hospital for treatment of radiation burns. The plant has been shut down for good.
Greece’s “Olympic Shame”
Forbes called this the “Olympic shame.” The Olympic Stadium that Greece built in Athens was designed to host the Olympic Games in 2004. The country splurged billions on Olympics which it couldn’t afford, ending up with a loss of $1.7 billion which the IOC and the IMF refused to help Greece with. The stadium is now abandoned, its seats smashed, and basically everything is cracked, overgrown, and crumbling. It’s unclear if the venue will ever be revived since the Greek government itself and most companies in the struggling country couldn’t afford a very costly cleanup.
Terra Purchases Lycos
Spanish internet company Terra Networks bought web search engine Lycos on May 6, 2000, when the dot-com bubble was nearing its peak. Terra spent $12.5 billion, but in 2001, Lycos abandoned its search engine crawler. Before the bubble crash, Lycos was ranked eighth as the world’s most popular internet site. After three years of loss, Terra sold Lycos for $95.4 million to Daum Communications in 2004. In May of 2018, Lycos was rebranded as “Brightcom Group”.
Sumitomo Copper Affair
The Sumitomo Copper Affair or Yasuo Hamanaka Copper Market Scheme was a metal trading scandal that happened between 1986 and 1996, when the scandal was discovered. Sumitomo Corp. was a Japanese trading house and its chief copper trader was Yasuo Hamanaka. For a decade, he speculated on copper contracts without authorization. In the beginning, it was a way to make back losses quickly, but it became a massive fraudulent campaign which involved false commercial justification in addition to fake accounting of non-existent physical copper stores. Hamanaka was in prison for eight years because of corruption.
The St. Francis Dam Disaster
Categorized as a “catastrophic” dam failure, the Francis Dam Disaster in 1928 did not only kill more than 400 people but also swept away several miles of fertile farmland. At the time, William Mulholland was the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Chief Engineer, and he lost his career due to the collapse. The Mulholland Dam had no contraction joints and cracks started to form. The engineer himself inspected the cracks but said they were not cause for worry. At 11:57 P.M. on March 12, 1928 he was proven wrong as 12.4 billion gallons of water flooded through the area and killed any eyewitnesses.
The Failure Of Banqiao Dam
In 1975, the Banqiao Dam in China failed and affected 10.15 million people as well as 3 million acres of land in 30 cities. The dam’s collapse started a domino effect, with 62 other dams collapsing afterwards. Many of these dams had been built by the Chinese government together with the Soviet Union. Poor design caused the Banqiao Dam collapse. The governments behind them just focused on retaining water and overlooked another very important purpose of a dam: preventing a flood. According to the estimate of the Chinese government, 26,000 people died. However, this was a lie as the real death toll was between 85,600 and 240,000.
Exxon Valdez Crashes Into A Reef
On March 24, 1989, Exxon Shipping Company’s oil tanker Exxon Valdez was going to Long Beach, California when it crashed into Alaska’s Bligh Reef, Prince William Sound. It resulted in an oil spill, and the amount of crude oil that got dumped into the ocean was 10.8 million gallons. This is still the worst oil spill of all time in terms of environmental damage. Exxon Shipping tried to put the blame on the third mate. However, an investigation revealed that the company was actually responsible. They did not maintain the crash-prevention radar (RAYCAS) as well as overloaded the crew, causing fatigue, which led to the mate improperly steering the vessel.
AOL Purchases Time Warner
On January 10, 2000, AOL announced its plans to buy Time Warner. At a purchase price of $182 billion in stock and debt, this purchase was the largest merger in the history of the corporate world. During that time, Time Warner was the biggest media/entertainment company. The merger wasn’t a success because of a pretty common reason – inaccurate expectations (or as ABC called it, “corporate culture clash”). AOL thought that it would get the cable customers of Time Warner, who thought the merger would give it millions of subscribers. Neither expectation was met in reality.
Italian Carrara Marble Troubles
Initially named the Standard Oil Building (AKA “Big Stan”), Chicago’s Aon Center was constructed in 1974 and had a really unique feature – 43,000 Carrara marble slabs from Italy sheathed the building completely. Since the marble was thinner compared to the usual marble used to clad buildings, the cladding of the Aon Center started to fail right away. Even during construction, a 350-pound slab came off the façade, smashing into the roof of the nearby Prudential Center. Twelve years later, inspectors discovered that the cladding had dangerous cracks. The entire building had to be renovated using granite for $80 million and took two years to fix.
Problems With Building 32
The Ray and Maria Stata Center, also known as Building 32, was designed according to the German Expressionism Style and is owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2007, MIT filed a lawsuit against architect Frank Gehry, Skanska USA, and NER Construction Management for problems with the “design services” and “drawings”. The Stata Center’s bad design led to leaks, mold growth, backed-up drainage, and falling debris and ice which caused emergency exit blockage. Skanska and another consulting firm had warned Gehry about the problems with the design but he ignored their warnings. In 2010, there was an out-of-court settlement for the lawsuit.
The 1889 Johnstown Flood In Pennsylvania
The Johnstown Flood of 1889 was caused by the catastrophic failure of the South Fork Dam. The dam’s failure came after unusually heavy rains. There was actually a cover up in the investigation into Johnstown Flood. The South Fork Fishing & Hunting Club, which had wealthy and powerful members, had made changes to the dam, impairing the ability of the dam to withstand storms. This was only discovered in 2016, more than a century after the first investigation, which declared that nothing was wrong with South Fork and there was no reason for its collapse despite the failure of the dam and the deaths of 2,209 people.
The Moonlanding Gets Accidentally Taped Over
After years of speculation, NASA finally admitted back in 2009 that the tapes of the moon landing are missing. Apparently, they accidentally taped over the moon landing. The SSTV on-board the Apollo 11 was used to record the moon landing tapes. In the early ‘80s, the raw footage on the telemetry tapes disappeared. Investigators discovered that the content of the Apollo 11 SSTV tapes had been erased and the tapes were reused. At the time, this was standard procedure at NASA. Now, only the Super 8 film which was taken of the SSTV transmission and NTSC video are left.
12 Publishers Turn Down Harry Potter
J.K. Rowling, the famed writer of the Harry Potter book series, pitched her book to 13 different publishers, but 12 of them rejected it. The last publisher, Bloomsbury, decided to give her a shot. The author now has a net worth of hundreds of millions of dollars, while Harry Potter has become a household name, with the franchise worth $25 billion. However, Bloomsbury had a disappointing request – they asked her to use “J.K.” instead of Joanne, her first name, because they were worried young boys wouldn’t read a book written by a female author. She agreed to the request.
Sony Rejects Marvel
Currently worth over $18 billion, the Marvel franchise was bought by Disney for $4.24 billion in 2009. This means Disney has helped Marvel grow significantly since then but there was another possible buyer before Disney and made the mistake of rejecting the Marvel franchise – Sony. It even turned down buying Marvel twice. All of the Marvel rights would have only cost Sony $25 million, but the company chose to purchase only the rights to Spider-Man for $10 million, together with five percent of the revenue of Marvel movies and 50 percent of the products revenue. This Marvel connection is definitely a good chunk of change for Sony but it’s worth way less than what it could have been.
Blockbuster Turns Down Buying Netflix
In the late ‘90s, the movie rental company Blockbuster LLC was offered the chance to buy Netflix for $50 million, but Blockbuster’s CEO rejected the offer. Now, Blockbuster is nearly defunct except for the branch in Bend, Oregon while Netflix continues to grow and is worth $125 billion, with its stock price a $539.44 per share. In 2010, Blockbuster went bankrupt and there are rumors that it was killed by Netflix. That isn’t entirely true, though. Blockbuster started losing money in 1996 and it went on until its closure. As for Netflix, it was founded in 1997.