This has been a particularly dangerous summer to travel, with several high profile accidents affecting highways, airports and train routes all around the world. The recent deluge of tragic events has killed or injured hundreds of travelers — from the US to the Ukraine — and has prompted both law enforcement and government inquiries into the cause of each accident.
Although the full extent of the damage is not yet known, this slew of transportation disasters may well prove to be the deadliest in many years.
To give some context, here’s a quick rundown of the latest commuter accidents in chronological order:
The cause of the devastating July 6 train accident in Lac Megantic, Quebec, which has so far claimed the lives of 24 people, remains a mystery, although the CEO of the US-based Rail World Inc., which owns the affected train, has blamed it on the negligence of the train engineer.
San Francisco International Airport
Later on July 6, Asiana Airlines flight 214, en route from Seoul, South Korea, clipped the sea wall while landing in San Francisco, resulting in a crash landing that claimed the lives of two 16-year-old Chinese students.
An air taxi carrying two South Carolina families to Soldatna — an Alaskan fishing village near Anchorage — crashed July 8 killing all 10 passengers on board. The cause of the crash remains unclear, though an investigation is underway.
July has not been a good month for public transportation in Ukraine. On July 11 in northwest Ukraine, 8 people — including one child — were killed when a Bulgaria-bound bus collided with a Ukrainian passenger bus, then veered off the road into the woods. The week before, a bus carrying Russian religious pilgrims crashed after the driver lost control, killing 14 and leaving another 29 hospitalized with injuries.
A commuter train derailed and crashed today at Bretigny-sur-Orge, near Paris. At least 6 of the train’s 385 passengers were killed in the crash, with 26 others wounded. An investigation is currently underway to determine the cause of the derailment.
London Heathrow Airport
Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet the Queen of Sheba had been parked at London’s Heathrow Airport for more than eight hours when it began to give off smoke around 4:30 BST today. The Ethiopian Airlines plane caught on fire with no passengers aboard, airport officials say. Heathrow closed all runways for 90 minutes after the fire was put out. This is the latest in a series of problems with the Dreamliner model.
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
On July 24, around 6:30 PM local time, a high-speed train traveling between Madrid and Ferrol crashed while speeding around a bend at reportedly twice the legal speed limit for that section of track, killing 79 people and injuring at least 130 more. The driver of the train, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, has been provisionally charged with multiple cases of reckless homicide for his alleged misconduct and negligence.
Avellino, Southern Italy
At least 38 people have been killed so far when a bus carrying pilgrims to a Catholic holy site careened off a bridge in southern Italy on July 28. Although the exact cause of the accident is not yet known, preliminary investigations suggest that the bus was experiencing brake problems right before it went off the road. A regional police official was quoted as saying that the bus had struck 11 cars on the road before plunging over the bridge.
At least 40 passengers were injured in western Switzerland on July 29 as two trains collided approximately 100 meters away from a train station near Lausanne. The investigation is ongoing, although Swiss media has reported the possibility of high casualty numbers.