Siberian firefighters going into the remains of the illegal home care facility where 20 people or more died in a fire on Christmas Eve. Screenshot of a video from the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations.
26 Dec 2022

Accidents and fires over the Christmas 2022 weekend


North America and Japan paralysed by snowstorms - 51 people poisoned by ammonia leak in Serbia -  20 people killed in a care home in Siberia -  30 people were trapped inside a burning church in Finland - 8 were rescued alive in an avalanche in Austria, and 11 people died in two fatal bus crashes. 


North America and Japan paralysed by snow storms

At least 60 people died over the Christmas weekend in North America during Storm Elliot. The snowstorm has been described as a "once-in-a-generation event", and has left hundreds of thousand of people without power.


Read More on Storm Elliot on CTIF.org


According to several international media, including The Guardian, heavy snow in large parts of Japan killed 17 people and injured more than 90 while leaving hundreds of homes without power over the Christmas weekend, disaster management officials have said. 


The bus plunged from a height of about 30m (98ft) into the Lerez river on Christmas Eve.
The bus fell from a height of about 30m (98ft) into the Lerez river in Galicia, Spain on Christmas Eve. 


Fatal bus crashes in Spain and Canada

Emergency services in Spain have confirmed seven people are dead  after a bus drove off a bridge  into a river on Christmas Eve. Rescuers retrieved several bodies from the Lérez river in the north-western Galicia region on Monday. According to BBC World, two people, including the driver, were injured after the bus fell from a height of about 30m (98ft) into the fast-flowing river. Officials say bad weather may have caused the crash. The bus driver allegedly tested negative for alcohol and drugs.

Four people died and dozens were injured after an intercity coach bus crashed in the Canadian province of British Columbia on Christmas Eve. "Extremely icy road conditions" are believed to have caused the vehicle to roll over near the town of Merritt on Saturday, police say. According to CBC News, 52 people on the bus were sent to hospital.  36 of those required treatment, and 8 people were still in hospital with serious injuries as of Christmas Day.


20 dead in illegal home care fire

At least 20 people have been killed in a fire in a home for the elderly in the Siberian city of Kemerovo on Christmas Eve, according to BBC WorldRussian officials say another six people were injured. The entire top floor of the the two-storey wooden building was gutted by the overnight fire. Initial reports say it may have been caused by a faulty heating boiler.

Cover photo (Above): Siberian firefighters going into the remains of the illegal home care facility where 20 people or more died in a fire on Christmas Eve. Screenshot of a video from the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations. 


18 miners stuck in a gold mine shaft underground

USAR teams in the Chinese region of Xinjiang were searching for 40 mine workers after a gold mine collapsed on Christmas Eve, according to the state news agency New China.  


All 8 rescued alive in Austrian avalanche

10 people were reported missing in an avalanche in the Austrian ski report of Lech-Zürs on Christmas Day.  Initially,  Austrian authorities assumed 10 people had been buried by the snow - however,  after search and rescue efforts were  completed, 8 people were identified and were alive. Six were unharmed and two have been taken to hospital, according to Austrian newspaper Voralberger Nachrichten. According to local police, 200 people were involved in the search party for the potential victims.  


Train carrying HazMat derailed in Serbia - 51 injured

51 people people were poisoned when a freight train carrying ammoniac derailed during Christmas day near the city of Pirot southeastern Serbia.  Residents in the city were issued a "shelter-in-place" and a state of emergency was declared in the city. The train was a´carrying 20 cars filled with ammoniac. According to Pirot mayor Vladan Vasic, two of the railway cars were punctured and started leaking.  The leak caused thick smoke, which in turn caused several vehicle accidents on the main highway between North Macedonia and Greece. 


30 people stuck inside burning wooden church

In Finland, some 30 people in Rautjärvi, Finland, were intentionally locked inside a burning wooden church set on fire by arson on Christmas Day. At 8:30 am local time, in the middle of the Christmas morning service, the local priest was holding a sermon when smoke was discovered coming in from the main entrance. During evacuation, the doors were found to be bound shut with some kind of rope. Luckily, the ropes were not very strong and the congregation could push the doors open, and everyone was safely evacuated. According to criminal inspector Mika Salminen, the rapid fire development, and other factors, indicate that the fire was set by an arsonist. An 80 year old man has been found dead outside his house, which had also been burnt down. He is now the prime suspect. 


At least 15 people have been killed, and about 40 injured, by a huge fuel tanker explosion east of Johannesburg on Christmas day. The tanker got stuck under a low bridge on Saturday morning in Boksburg city.  Patients were evacuated from the hospital's casualty after part of the roof collapsed following the blast. The truck was carrying liquid petroleum gas, according to BBC World. 

"Apparently, a gas tanker drove under the subway bridge and got stuck in there, and due to friction, it caught alight," emergency services spokesperson William Ntladi was quoted as saying.

As firefighters tried to put out the blaze, there was a huge second explosion - captured on amateur video - that destroyed a fire engine and two motor vehicles.


25 dead in floods on the Philippines

46000 people have allegedly been forced to leave their homes after rising water levels hit the southern parts of the Philippines over the Christmas weekend. USAR efforts were still ongoing on Tuesday December 27, and 26 were still missing. The majority of the victims were from the city of Gingoon on the island of Mindanao. The remaining residents now face a food crisis, since the water also killed most of the live stock on the island. Tropical storms on the more than 7600 islands in the island nation of the Philippines are common. Storms usually strike the archipelago around 20 times per year.