Seismic Seconds

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Seismic Seconds
Genre Documentary
Country of origin United Kingdom
United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 6
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) National Geographic Society
Distributor ITV
Original network National Geographic Channel
Original release Late 1990s (Late 1990s)
Followed by Seconds from Disaster

Seismic Seconds is a documentary television series that aired in the late 1990s on the National Geographic Channel. The program analysed the causes of six incidents, five involving the loss of human life. The better-known sequel to Seismic Seconds, Seconds From Disaster, was spun off from the series.

In the British version, the narrator says in the voiceover:

The beginning of this voiceover:

was later used and modified for the series Seconds From Disaster:


# Title Disaster Date of disaster Nature of disaster
1 Bhopal Gas Disaster Bhopal disaster 3 December 1984 Human error
In Bhopal, India, lethal methyl isocyanate gas was accidentally released from a pesticides plant run by a subsidiary of Union Carbide. Between 2,500 and 5,000 people in Bhopal died on the day of the disaster, and thousands more have died since from ill-effects.
2 Crash of TWA 800 TWA Flight 800 17 July 1996 Electrical fault, central fuel tank explosion
Over the Atlantic Ocean, a Boeing 747 operating as TWA Flight 800 took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport. Twelve minutes into the flight the aircraft exploded and disintegrated, killing all 230 occupants.
3 The Eruption of Mount Saint Helens 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens 18 May 1980 Lava bulge opened by earthquake, volcanic eruption
Mount St. Helens, a volcano in the state of Washington that had lain dormant for 123 years, began to experience seismic activity in March 1980. A series of earthquakes and small eruptions ensued as a large bulge grew in the North face of the mountain. On 18 May, another earthquake caused the north face to collapse, triggering an eruption that blew off the top and side of the volcano. 57 tourists, local residents and scientists perished.
4 Death of Ayrton Senna 1994 San Marino Grand Prix crash 1 May 1994 Loss of control of Williams FW16
At the San Marino Grand Prix track, triple Formula One world championship winner Ayrton Senna lost control of his car and crashed into a concrete barrier wall at Tamburello. Then the front right tire flew up and struck his helmet. Senna was killed instantly.
5 Sinking of HMS Coventry HMS Coventry sinking 25 May 1982 Enemy aircraft bombing, failed intercept by HMS Broadsword
During the Falklands War, two British warships - HMS Coventry and HMS Broadsword - prepared for battle, tasked with defending the British fleet from air attack. An attack force of Argentinian aircraft bombed the Coventry and the Broadsword. One bomb hit the Broadsword, but failed to explode until it had exited the ship's hull. Three bombs hit the Coventry, of which two exploded on board. The Coventry capsized shortly afterwards and sank the next day. Nineteen crew members were killed.
6 The Airshow Miracle RIAT MiG-29 collision 24 July 1993 Pilot error
At the then-biannual Royal International Air Tattoo held at RAF Fairford, two Mikoyan MiG-29s flying an aerobatics routine as part of the Tattoo air display collided in mid-air. Both pilots ejected from their aircraft and survived the accident, and there were no fatalities among the spectators.

See also[edit]