Überlingen mid-air collision

This accident has recently came up in a conversation I had with a few friends.  Surprisingly, it’s not as widely known as I thought it was.  Read through the Wikipedia page for more details.

The Überlingen mid-air collision occurred at 21:35 UTC on 1 July 2002 between Bashkirian Airlines Flight 2937 (a Tupolev Tu-154M passenger jet carrying 60 passengers – mostly children – and 9 crew) and DHL Flight 611 (a Boeing 757-23APF cargo jet manned by two pilots) over the towns of Überlingen and Owingen in southern Germany. All 71 people on board the two aircraft were killed.

Nearly two years later, on 24 February 2004, Peter Nielsen, the air traffic controller on duty at the time of the accident, was stabbed to death by an architect, Vitaly Kaloyev, who had lost his wife and two children in the accident.

On 19 May 2004, the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation (BFU) published its determination that the accident had been caused by shortcomings in the Swiss air traffic control system supervising the flights at the time of the accident and by ambiguities in the use of TCAS, the on-board aircraft collision avoidance system.

This is obviously very tragic, but what a story!  I’ve heard a rumor that there will be a drama movie made about it. That’s in addition to a few documentaries that already exist. Like this one, for example:

How often do asteroids hit Earth?

Between 2000 and 2013, a network of sensors that monitors Earth around the clock listening for the infrasound signature of nuclear detonations detected 26 explosions on Earth ranging in energy from 1-600 kilotons – all caused not by nuclear explosions, but rather by asteroid impacts.

There is also a list of all impacts and a video with locations.

Chelyabinsk meteorite

By now, everyone has probably already heard about the meteorite that exploded over the Chelyabinsk city in Russia.  There are tonnes of videos on YouTube and photos all over the web.  I think this one, that meshes a few of them together, is pretty good.

And as far as comments go, I think this Slashdot comment is the best:

Meteors are the universe’s way to ask hows your space program going.

And the last thing I want to add on the subject is that I’m really glad nobody is dead.  A lot of people were injured, and there is plenty of damage to buildings, but that all is repairable.  If that trajectory of that thing was slightly different, and it hit the ground before exploding, I imagine the damage would be way greater.

Agios Nicholas church, 2012

Church

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to stop by the Agios Nicholas church.  The church was destroyed a few years ago when it went completely under water of the nearby lake.  This year Cyprus saw plenty of rain, but so far the water levels haven’t reached that far yet.  There is still snow in the Troodos mountains, but I don’t think that melting those will be enough to drown the church again.

Have a look at my Flickr set for previous pictures of this church.

Texas drought and wildfires

Big Picture, as always, shares some stunning pictures of a natural disaster.  This time Texas drought and wildfires are in focus.  When looking at these images, I can’t stop thinking of people who, instead of running, trying to save their lives, stopped for a moment, set their cameras, framed the image and pressed the shutter button.  I haven’t been in anything even remotely as dangerous as these situations, but even that was enough for me to know that I am not built for journalistic photography.  And I can’t even start to imagine what all those people who’s homes and businesses were in the path of fires feel like.

 

A lesson in geography perhaps, Mr.President?

Cyprus Mail does an extensive coverage of the explosion investigation (several articles, I’m only linking to the one I quote).  The President of Cyprus, Dimitris Christofias, was also questioned and gave a few statements.  Some of his words are rather unbelievable.

Christofias also denied it was him who decided where to put the munitions, adding that he had never visited the Evangelos Florakis naval base at Mari, which neighbours the Vassilikos power station, before the blast. “If I knew the proximity to the power station I would not have accepted them being stored there,” Christofias said.

Say what?  I mean, I can understand that Cyprus is covered with villages big and small, some with duplicate names.  But this place is special.  It is the largest naval base in Cyprus.  And it has the power station that was responsible for about 60% of all power supply. This location must be on every single strategic plan this country has.  This should be one of the things you know before you accept the responsibility of leading this country.  EPIC FAIL.

Pukkelpop festival tragedy in Hasselt, Belgium

Associated Press reports:

HASSELT, Belgium (AP) — The death toll from a fierce thunderstorm that mangled tents and downed trees and scaffolding at an open-air music festival in Belgium has risen to five, officials said Friday.

Hasselt Mayor Hilde Claes said that two more people died overnight. About 140 were injured in the storm, 10 of them seriously, she said.

All the dead were Belgians, Claes said.

Organizers canceled the annual Pukkelpop festival near Hasselt, 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Brussels. Buses and trains were pressed into service to transfer the 60,000 festival goers home.

This is the same Pukkelpop festival that I went to in 2009.  My sincere condolences to the friends and families of the victims.