July 28th, 2010

2Q 2010: Recap of Man-made Catastrophe Events

Posted at 1:00 AM ET

Plane Crash, Tripoli, Libya: An Afriqiyah Airways plane carrying 104 passengers and crew on an international flight crashed as it attempted to land at Tripoli International Airport on May 12, killing all but one person on board. Afriqiyah Airways said Flight 8U771 was carrying 93 passengers and 11 crew. The sole survivor, a child reported to be Dutch, is being treated in a hospital. The Airbus A330-200 was flying from Johannesburg in South Africa to the Libyan capital when it crashed just short of the runway around 06:00 local time (04:00 UTC) after a nine hour flight, the airline said. Eyewitnesses said the aircraft started to break up as it came in to land in clear weather before totally disintegrating. Two flight recorders have been recovered and an investigation has been launched into the cause of the crash. Market sources quoted by Insurance Day said the aircraft had an insured value of USD123 million on a policy led by Catlin. Insurance Day added Afriqiyah Airways is thought to have a liability policy with a USD1 billion limit.

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Explosion and Fire at Offshore Oil Rig, Gulf of Mexico: An explosion and large fire on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico left 11 workers missing and 17 others injured on April 20. The blaze on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which broke out around 22:00 local time (03:00 UTC on April 21), sent flames and smoke high into the sky about 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Seventeen workers were injured, three critically, and the 11 missing men are now feared dead. Reports said the rig, which is owned by Transocean Ltd, was under contract to the oil giant BP at a cost of USD533,000 (EUR395,000) a day and doing exploratory drilling. The rig was listing badly as it was consumed by flames and it eventually sunk on April 22, leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The well is currently leaking oil at a rate of about 1,000 barrels per day. Reports said the rig was built in 2001 in South Korea at a cost of about USD350 million. Transocean said the 400-by-250-foot (120-by-80 meter) rig was located around 42 miles offshore Venice, Louisiana, on Mississippi Canyon block 252.

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Coal Mine Explosion, Montcoal, West Virginia: At least 25 workers were killed in an explosion at a coal mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, on April 5. Reports said the blast occurred towards the end of the afternoon at the underground mine run by Performance Coal Company, a subsidiary of Massey Energy. The explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine was the deadliest mining disaster in the United States since 1984, according to reports. In addition to the 25 fatalities, four miners are still missing and two others were hospitalized. A massive rescue operation was launched after the blast as emergency services rushed to the scene. However, the operation was suspended later because rising methane gas levels heightened the risk of another blast. The operation has since resumed, with rescuers drilling into the mine to release poisonous gases and ventilate the mine chamber.

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