The Slatest

This Week in Disasters: Edge of Extinction

A boat filled with people crosses floodwaters towards a road.
A rescue boat—hopefully free of rats and snakes—transports locals stranded by floods in Australia. David Gray/Getty Images

Disasters are big to the people they affect, but amid all the headlines, they’re easy for others to miss. We’ve rounded up he chaos that caught our attention this week in our new roundup, This Week in Disasters.

Long time coming, long time flowing disaster: A volcano near Reykjavik erupted for the first time in 800 years on March 19. And the lava is still pouring out of it. Spectators—like this guy, himself a potential disaster—are coming from all over the country to watch.


Work-from-home disaster: A woman was on a Zoom call with her colleague on Monday when she was stabbed to death, on camera, in her Los Angeles home.

On the slopes disaster: An avalanche in the Swiss Alps killed Olympic snowboarder Julie Pomagalski while she was midrun on Tuesday morning


Fire disaster: Flames incinerated a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh on Tuesday. An estimated 550 people are injured, 400 are missing, 15 are dead, and 45,000 are displaced.

Shoreside disaster: A Long Beach, California, lifeguard station, painted rainbow for LGBTQ pride, was burned down in what Mayor Robert Garcia calls an “act of hate.” Garcia promised to rebuild the station “better and brighter.”

Water disasters: Heavy rains caused devastating floods in Malaysia, killing more than 200 people as of Friday morning. Floods—the worst in 50 years—also have submerged the east coast of Australia this week. Two people, both drivers trapped in their cars, have died, and 40,000 people have been forced to evacuate.


Critter disaster: Receding flood waters in Australia are leaving a “plague” of spiders in their wake. Evacuated people returned to their homes to find them blanked in the eight-legged insects, some of which are poisonous. And Australian rescue rafts and boats were invaded by rats and snakes.

Wind disaster: A flurry of tornadoes tore through Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia on Thursday, ripping apart neighborhoods and houses and killing at least six people.

Edge of extinction disaster: African elephants are now on the brink of disappearing, according to a report released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature on Thursday.

Railway disaster: Two trains crashed into each other in southern Egypt on Friday. More than 30 people were killed and 100 people were injured.