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Death in the Water

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Throughout history, human beings have tried to tame water, to span its mighty currents and harness its great power. But sometimes that power works against us, when bridges of steel crumble, and quiet creeks become raging rivers bent on death and destruction.

Britannia Beach: Two of Canada's worst natural disasters happened at the Britannia Mine Complex in the rugged Coast Mountains of southwest British Columbia in 1915 and 1921. Together the two events killed 93 people. In the 1915 disaster a catastrophic landslide at Jane Camp killed 56 people. Six years later, in the evening of October 28 1921, a sudden outburst flood struck Britannia Beach, the main living quarters site of the Britannia Mine. A wall of water, reported to be 20 metres high, raced down the side of the mountain from the mine complex and swept through the village. More than 50 of the 110 houses in the community were destroyed by the flood or swept out to sea. 37 people drowned in the flood.

Second Narrows Bridge Collapse: On June 17, 1958 a group of 59 workers were out on the uncompleted fifth span of the new Second Narrows Bridge across Burrard Inlet. Without warning, the span's front end drooped downwards and collapsed into the water. About 20 men managed to run to safety. Others were thrown into the water or dragged down into the wreckage, attached to the steel beams by safety belts. 18 men died in the accident, which turned out to have been caused by the miscalculation of a junior engineer. The opening of the new bridge finally took place on August 25, 1960. It was recently renamed the Ironworkers Memorial Crossing, with plaques marking both ends of the bridge to commemorate the workers who died that day.

2002, 46 min 45 s

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