Christmas, the most significant celebration for all Christians as well as non-Christians, is among the happiest holidays when people reunite with their families to celebrate in peace and love. People should spend their time with their loved ones, exchange presents, and fully enjoy the jolly days of the Christmas season.
However, not all people could equally relish the holiday since some of the most disastrous tragedies in history took place during Christmas, resulting in a number of brutal deaths. Take a look at the biggest and most gruesome Christmas tragedies that ever happened.
8Christmas Eve Stampede in Michigan
Back in 1913, on Christmas Eve, a party was organized in the Italian Hall in Calumet, a small village in Michigan. Unfortunately, a shocking tragedy happened that has since become known as the ‘Italian Hall Disaster.
‘ Namely, over 400 people attended, but when someone falsely called out “fire,” the guests started running for their lives and caused a deadly stampede in the packed hall.
Exactly 73 miners and their family members, including even 59 children, were overrun as the guests stampeded to the exit in a panic due to the false alarm. After all these years, neither the person who called out the false alarm nor the reason was ever discovered.
7The Founding of the KKK
The Ku Klux Klan, the most notorious hate group in the USA, was actually established by six Confederate veterans on the 24th of December, 1865, in Tennessee.
The infamous organization came into existence after the Civil War had ended, more precisely during the Reconstruction era, when the Southern states were obliged to become part of the Union again. By 1870, the KKK was operating in most states in the South, and by the 1920s, the organization had reached 4 million members.
On Christmas, 1951, the KKK murdered Hariette and Harry Moore, two activists and members of the NAACP, by bombing their home. The couple was celebrating the 25th anniversary of their wedding.
6Christmas Plane Hijacking
Flight 8969, an Air France flight, which was supposed to take off from Algeria to France on the 24th of December, 1994, was hijacked by four members of a radical Islamic terrorist group. The men who had taken dynamite, handmade grenades and machine guns with them, had killed three people and kept 220 more as hostages for even two days.
As opposed to what authorities believed, the hijackers’ intention was not to negotiate but to blow up the plane above the Eiffel Tower and kill hundreds of people. Luckily, a French tactical unit raided the plane on the 26th and eliminated the terrorists.
5Indian Ocean Tsunami
In 2004, one day after Christmas, a massive underwater earthquake occurred at the bottom of the Indian Ocean near Sumatra, Indonesia. According to estimates, its power was equal to 23,000 nuclear bombs. The earthquake further caused a series of giant tsunami waves with a height of over 50 ft.
The tsunami devastated entire cities, villages, and resorts near the coast of the Indian Ocean, leaving millions of people homeless, while more than 225,000 people were proclaimed either missing or dead.
On the 25th of December, 1929, the world saw one of the most shocking family massacres in history. Having asked his oldest son to go shopping, Charlie Lawson from North Carolina shot and murdered his wife and five children. Among them was his baby daughter, who was only four months old.
Afterward, Lawson laid all the bodies outside the family home and escaped into the woods where he eventually took his own life. Another terrifying fact is that the house was turned into a tourist attraction for a while by Marion, Charlie’s brother, who wanted to capitalize on this Christmas tragedy.
3Christmas Massacres in Congo
At least 400 people, primarily civilians, were tortured and killed on the 25th of December, 2008, when rebel soldiers from the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda walked into several villages and their churches, murdering everyone in sight. Eventually, the villages were completely devastated. Approximately 20,000 people were forcibly displaced, and 220 people were kidnapped.
2Fire in the Richmond Theatre
In Richmond, Virginia, a devastating fire broke out inside the Richmond Theatre on the 26th of December, 1811. The fire was among the most dreadful urban catastrophes in the history of the USA, as it completely destroyed the building, took the lives of 72 victims, including a great number of government officials.
Although the theatre possessed many exits, not all attendees of the play managed to leave the building. As a tribute to the victims, the town built the Monumental Church on the site where the theatre used to be, along with a crypt for the unfortunate victims.
1Christmas Train Crash
The most dreadful train accident that New Zealand ever witnessed, referred to as the Tangiwai disaster, occurred on the 24th of December, 1951, when 151 out of 285 passengers died a terrible death. Namely, at 10:30 PM, a train went across the Whangaehu River Bridge whose columns had been destroyed by a flood just several minutes before.
Although the train driver received a warning about the flood and the damaged bridge shortly before, it was too late, and the train fell into the water when the bridge collapsed. Approximately 20 people went missing, never to be found by their loved ones.