On Saturday, a rooftop parking lot collapsed into a busy shopping mall in Elliot Lake, Ont. One person is believed dead, perhaps as many as 30 missing. This is shocking in a country where building codes and modern construction techniques have largely banished sudden structural collapses to the “World” section of newspapers. There is also the dawning realization that all of this may turn out to have been not just preventable, but foreseeable — reports have been emerging of structural problems with that roof going back several years.
Soon enough, we’ll have our answers — how many dead, how many wounded, what happened and if it could have been avoided. Until then, we’re left waiting for more information, something that falls hardest on the families of the missing.
Especially today. Vanishing during a disaster used to be a something that would happen even to those that survived unscathed — it could take hours or days to get word to your loved ones that you were safe and sound in the aftermath of a tragedy. That was before each of us carried a combined telephone and email device with us at all times as a matter of routine. In our digital age, when disaster strikes, we expect to hear from our loved ones right away. If we don’t, the panic sets in.
Based on what is known about the Elliot Lake collapse so far, it bears some resemblance to a disaster that struck Kansas City in 1981. The Hyatt Regency Hotel in that city was hosting a dance in its expansive lobby when two pedestrian walkways suspended above suddenly collapsed, killing 114 and injuring hundreds more. An investigation eventually concluded that engineering compromises made to keep the walkways sleek and attractive had put too much strain on critical support joints. But on the night of the disaster, as rescuers fought to dig out survivors before water from broken pipes could drown them, the only way to figure out who was trapped or dead was either to identify corpses or interview eyewitnesses who could say, with certainty, that they’d seen someone they knew crushed.
Illegal Aliens Cleared For U.S. Military Service 2014 10 18
The Pentagon announced a new policy allowing illegal immigrants the opportunity to enlist in the armed forces, Thursday.
USA Today reports that the new recruitment policies will focus on people with "high-demand skills" like foreign language acumen and health care training:
"For the first time, the program — known as Military Accessions in the National Interest, or MAVNI — will ...
Bronze Age Sundial-Moondial Discovered in Russia 2014 10 16
A strange slab of rock discovered in Russia more than 20 years ago appears to be a combination sundial and moondial from the Bronze Age, a new study finds.
The slab is marked with round divots arranged in a circle, and an astronomical analysis suggests that these markings coincide with heavenly events, including sunrises and moonrises.
The sundial might be "evidence of ...
Humans may only survive 68 days on Mars 2014 10 15
Space enthusiasts planning a move to Mars may have to wait to relocate: conditions on the Red Planet are such that humans would likely begin dying within 68 days, a new study says.
Oxygen levels would start to deplete after about two months and scientists said new technologies are required before humans can permanently settle on Mars, according to the study ...
Tom Sunic’s letter to the US Ambassador to Hungary 2014 10 14 October 11, 2014
Mr. André Goodfriend
Embassy of the United States of America
Szabadság tér 12
Dear Mr. Goodfriend,
As an American citizen I would hereby like to express my concern over the recent decision by the Hungarian government to ban the National Policy Institute (NPI) conference which had been scheduled to take place in Budapest from October 3 to October 5, 2014. ...
"Vampire grave" found in Bulgaria 2014 10 14
A "vampire grave" containing a skeleton with a stake driven through its chest has been unearthed by a man known as "Bulgaria’s Indiana Jones".
Professor Nikolai Ovcharov – a crusading archaeologist who has dedicated his life to unearthing mysteries of ancient civilisations – said that he had made the discovery while excavating the ruins of Perperikon, an ancient Thracian city ...