Major Incidents and Their Types

In this article you will be able to find information about different types of major incidents and their causes with real time examples and research.

What is the definition of ‘major incidents’?

Major incident is any emergency that requires the implementation of special arrangements by one or more of the emergency services.  It involves large amount of people – both servicemen and public.  High risk of danger and risk of loss of life can be also a factor that creates major incident.  Overall – a large area or many people involved in an incident where massive amounts of resources and time is spent to stabilise the situation causes it to be major.

Types of major incidents with real life examples:

Natural Causes – are a major incidents caused by nature or natural environment.  It can be earthquakes, seismic sea waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes and other incidents caused by nature.

Tsunamis in the sea are usually triggered by a strong earthquake about 6-9 magnitude in the ocean.  And even though it is a natural disaster itself, it is not the end of it, because the worst is just coming which is the actual wave that was created by the earthquake.  Japan was hit with different size tsunamis few times, but one of the largest one was on 11 March 2011.  The 9.0 magnitude earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres that destroyed everything in the way and made it to sea level.  On 10 March 2015 (a year later), a Japanese National Police Agency report confirmed 15,893 deaths that were direct result of the seismic sea wave.  In the area approximately 272,788 buildings were destroyed and the territory was inhabitable for people to live anymore, so around 228,863 people had to live in remote temporary area from their home till their find a new one.


major incidents

Hostile Acts – A hostile act is an attack or other use of undesirable force by any civilian, paramilitary, or military force or terrorists with or without reason.

On 7 January 2015 a two armed terrorists made their way to weekly newspaper’s office called Charlie Hebdo in Paris.  They killed 11 people and injured 11 in the building and also killed police officer which was outside the building before they left the site.  The terrorists were armed with assault rifles witch allowed them to kill a lot of people whilst only being 2 of them.  After investigation, officers find out that terrorism act was based on religious caricatures that was produced by Charlie Hebdo and insulted religion of Islam.  This incident caused a major and immediate response from emergency services and even armed forces as the terrorists were on the run and they could have been anywhere putting in danger even more people.  A lot of people from EU and USA were shocked at what happened and they supported the loss of Paris in different ways by lighting candles near the French embassy and holding posters with writing of “Je Suis Charlie”.


Technological – are incidents which have been caused due to the failure of a man made systems.  Though it is regarded as no one’s fault, there is always someone behind it and current laws are designed to prevent majority of these incidents.  That is why for organisations to design and or engineer a technological product it has to be checked by independent commissions whether the technology suits country standards and regulations.  Otherwise it is illegal to mass produce these items for sale or build structures.  E.g. architects has to check building at certain stages to make sure that everything is done correctly and suits the blueprints.  Otherwise it can collapse and cause major incident.  Normally these incidents are unpredictable and can happen at any time, but they are usually, because of someone’s fault e.g. lack of attention to detail and etc.

Chernobyl was a very major technological incident that was so massive it probably did touch other categories as well such as health related causes.  The cause for it to explode was explosion of core during emergency shutdown of reactor whilst undergoing power failure experiment.  It happened 1986 and it was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history in terms of cost and casualties which caused around 5,722 people to die from cancer among Ukrainian clean-up workers up to the year 1995, by the National Committee for Radiation Protection of the Ukrainian Population. It is one of only two classified as a level 7 event (the maximum classification) on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

Civil Unrest – Law enforcement identifies civil unrest as an unrest caused by individual or a group of people.  It can include a form of protest against major socio-political problems, but also can simply be an expression of antisocial values such as a political movement of Anarchy, disobedience, strikes, protests, riots, sabotages and other types of crime when emergency services have to maintain control over people.

In United States, Missouri state on August 9, 2014 Michael Brown was brutally killed by a police officer Darren Wilson and this sparkled people’s dissatisfaction and doubts about law enforcement organisations use of brutal force against civilians. This resulted in protests that escalated to riots very quickly and law enforcement had to control situation without the excessive use of weapons, because that would only trigger more aggression from the crowd.  But tear gas and water pumps were used to protect police officers and rioters themselves.  In a result – no one got killed apart from the Michael, but 10 members of the public and 6 police officers were injured and 321 people were arrested due to their behaviour in riot area.


Health Related – major incidents that are incidents related to illness and diseases that can be spreadable by blood, air, water supply and other interaction with citizens.

In 2009 there was a first outbreak for swine flu that was pandemic which means that countries all around the world had to be prepared for this in one way or another e.g. have vaccinations or PPE if outbreak happened in their country.  Swine flu is contagious human to human by internal liquids like airborne saliva droplets.  In 2009 outbreak in UK alone 29 people were confirmed to die from swine flu and 85,000 people were estimated to be affected by swine flu.  The first cases were confirmed on 27 April 2009 in passengers returning from Mexico which where authorities believe pandemic disease originated from in UK.  After the outbreak reached control, authorities confirmed total deaths that was a direct result of swine flu – it was 392 people in UK.


Human Error – is a cause that was not particularly intended by the parties that caused it and it was unwanted, but it happened simply, because lack of attention, focus, expertise, knowledge and other factors.

On 20 April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico BP operated drilling rig exploded due to result of BP employees and those of Transocean not correctly following procedures of testing the pressure build-up in the drill.  This caused methane gases that were ignited by the drill and exploded.  Explosion uncovered the oil well completely and in result 1.84 million US gallons leaked out during months of hard work trying to conceal the well.  11 people were reported dead due to explosion and all of them were workers of BP.  Even though the explosion may not be classified as a major incident, but what it escalated to and what damage it done it is certain fact that this is one of the biggest oil spills that happened in human history…  Because of the pollution sea life, birds and other animals on the coast suffered and died continuously, even though workers that worked 4 days a week tried their best to clean the polluted areas.  BP and the Department of Justice agreed to a record-setting $4.525 billion in fines and other payments for all the damages that was done.