April 7

This Day in History

Disaster

Apr 7, 1990:

Twin ferry accidents on opposite ends of world

In a tragic coincidence, two separate ferry accidents in different areas of the world take the lives of a reported 325 people on this day in 1990. The first took place in Myanmar (formerly Burma) on the Gyaing River. Later in the day, Scandinavia was also rocked by tragedy.

A double-decker ferry traveling from Moulmein to Kyondo along the Gyaing River in Myanmar was carrying approximately 240 passengers and crew through a violent storm with very strong winds. The intensity of the wind gusts was compounded by the ferry operators failure to properly distribute the weight of the passengers in the boat, a deadly error. The combination caused the ferry to tip over and eventually to turn over completely in the water. Many of the people on board were trapped underwater. An estimated 215 of the ferry s 240 passengers perished. (Exact numbers are impossible to know because reporting of the accident was restricted by Myanmar s military dictatorship.)

On the night of that same day, the Scandinavian Star, a Danish-owned vessel, was making its first trip after being bought by VR-DANO from SeaEscape, Ltd. It was carrying 493 passengers and their cars and trucks from Oslo, Norway, to Frederikshaven, Denmark. The vessel was in the Skagerrak Strait, which stretches between Norway and Denmark, when fire broke out on board. While the crew put out the fire, a second undetected fire was raging out of control. Smoke detectors failed and no fire alarm was set off. The crew, most speaking only Portuguese, were not prepared for the emergency and were unable to communicate escape plans to the passengers. While some made it to lifeboats, panic ensued, and 110 died, mainly from smoke inhalation.

When help arrived, firefighters found three lucky survivors amid the horrible carnage on this deadly day on the seas. Tugboats then dragged the ship to Lydokil, Norway.

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