earthquake of 1987 & other disasters

Published: 1987
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI

Unknown Speaker 1: "We got a crash on the airport, the airport's closed."

Unknown Speaker 2: "Okay, airport's closed" --

Unknown Speaker 1: "That's right."

Unknown Speaker 2: -- "we got a crash at the airport."

Ken Herrera: There were three major airline crashes in 1987 in the United States. One happened in Detroit. In August, a Northwest Airlines jet barely got off the ground and crashed a few blocks from the end of the runway. It is believed that for some reason the plane’s flaps were not in the proper position. 156 people died; there was 1 survivor, a 4-year-old girl who gained worldwide attention and received thousands of presents.

In November, a jet flipped over in a snowstorm while attempting takeoff from Denver. In all, 26 people on that Continental flight died, including some members of a group of high-school students returning home from the Future Farmers National Convention. The cause of that crash is still being investigated.

Late in the year, a PSA commuter jet fell from the skies and disintegrated on impact in California. The crash was the result of foul play, not a problem with the plane. 43 people died in that incident.

Tragedy of another kind hit California in October. UPI Radio’s Bob Brill has the story of the earthquake of 1987 …

Bob Brill: "Homes collapsed, cars bounced on the freeway in morning rush-hour traffic and tall buildings swayed. It was an earthquake measuring 6+ on the Richter scale. It caused tens of millions of dollars in damage and left more than a half-dozen people dead. The quake was centered in Whittier, ten miles from Downtown Los Angeles, but it was felt over a wide area. It was strong and brought back memories for those who made it through the 1971 quake. Rosaria Beasley echoed the thought of millions … "

Rosaria Beasley: "It was shaking real fast, and some of the things on the table fell over. The glass upstairs on the second floor of the -- of the restaurant, you could hear it shaking; it was nerve-wracking.'"

Bill Brill: "In surveying the damage, you saw the force of mother nature: cars literally crushed by falling buildings, storefronts left only with frames as the window glass ended up on the ground in pieces, phone service and electricity is some areas nonexistent. That coupled with the constant fear of aftershocks, and you have a frightening situation.

"Some people left; others stayed as they learned to come to grips with California’s biggest fault.

"I'm Bob Brill."