The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Monday, 06 November 2017 01:00

40 years after Kelly Barnes dam failure

On this day in 1977, a small embankment dam located above Toccoa Falls Bible College in Georgia failed, releasing a wall of water that killed 39 people. This dam failure along with several others in the 1970s brought drastic changes in dam safety, such as the establishment of the National Dam Safety Program and many relevant state programs around the country. There are more than 90,000 dams in the US, out of which more than 15,000 are classified as high-hazard-potential structures, meaning that their failure would likely cause loss of life.

On the afternoon of October 16th, the roof of Douglas Community School’s PE hall in Cork, Dublin City in Ireland was ripped off by the extreme winds of storm Ophelia. Being a hurricane as it crossed the Atlantic, Ophelia has reached the UK and Ireland yesterday, exactly 30 years after the Great Storm of 1987 that killed 18 people. It was anticipated to be the worst storm to hit the country in more than half a century, so many schools were closed and troops were placed on standby.

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The US Geological Survey predicted up to 1,000 fatalities will come from the earthquake, and an economic impact of between US$1bn and $10bn.

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It was the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade spun, making landfall in Texas. Harvey developed from a tropical wave to a Category 4 storm, coming ashore on August 25th and causing historic flooding. At peak intensity, the hurricane’s wind speed reached 130 mph. Check below structures that didn’t cope with these powerful winds and the major flooding in the area.

A 4.3-magnitude earthquake hit the Italian holiday island of Ischia at 8:57 p.m. local time on Monday night. Up to now, two women have been reported dead, one of whom having been hit by falling masonry from the church of Santa Maria del Suffragio, according to the Civil Protection Department in Rome. Many people were pulled out alive from the rubble, including a 7-month-old baby.

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In the evening of the 9th of May, a large crawler crane collapsed in Varese, Italy while lifting a large section of a new viaduct at the Arcisate Stabio railway yards. The piece of concrete bridge was never put into place, as the Vernazza-owned crane lost its stability and overturned, dumping its load on the ground. Although several people were on site watching the operation, luckily no one was injured. The crane’s operator is also safe, as he managed to get out of the cabin in time, jumping from a height of nearly three meters.

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