The Worst Building Collapses in History

The area that once hosted the Canterbury Television headquarters in Christchurch, New Zealand, is now a memorial to the victims of the building collapse. Editorial credit: alarico /
The area that once hosted the Canterbury Television headquarters in Christchurch, New Zealand, is now a memorial to the victims of the building collapse. Editorial credit: alarico /

Throughout history, building collapses have resulted in devastating property damage and deaths in many parts of the world. Some of the worst building collapses have caused hundreds or even thousands of deaths. Here is a list of the most notable building collapses in recent memory. 

Seven of the Deadliest Building Collapses in History

World Trade Center

The World Trade Center, also known as the Twin Towers, collapsed on September 11, 2001. The collapse was caused by coordinated terrorist attacks on the South and North towers, which fell at 9:59 AM and 10:28 AM, respectively. Commonly known as the September 11 attacks or 9/11, the collapse of the World Trade Center resulted in 2,996 deaths, making it the worst terrorist attack in history.

Rana Plaza

The Rana Plaza collapse, also referred to as the Dhaka garment factory collapse, occurred on April 24, 2013, in Dhaka District, Bangladesh. The 8-story building that housed five garment factories took less than 60 seconds to collapse, resulting in 1,134 deaths and more than 2,500 injuries. The Rana Plaza collapse was caused by structural failure, ranking as the deadliest structural failure in modern history. It drew attention to the poor labor conditions in Bangladesh.

Sampoon Department Store

The Sampoon Department Store in the Seocho-gu District of Seoul, South Korea, collapsed on June 29, 1995 and resulted in 502 deaths. The building's collapse was due to structural failures that had been identified prior to the collapse but were ignored by the authorities.

Dzhrashen School

The Dzhrashen School collapsed in Spitak, Armenia, on December 7, 1988, due to an earthquake, resulting in 400 deaths. Investigations following the collapse also revealed certain structural problems that contributed to the collapse, such as poor ties between the floors and the walls.


A 9-story building known as the Dharahara collapsed in Kathmandu, Nepal, on April 25, 2015, resulting in 200 deaths. Prior to the collapse, the building had been a landmark and major tourist attraction in Kathmandu. The building crumbled due to a massive earthquake. Originally built in 1832, Dharahara was located at the center of Sundhara, and was also called the Bhimsen Tower. Reconstruction of the building began in June 2018.  

Canterbury Television Building

The collapse of the Canterbury Television Building in Christchurch, New Zealand, occurred on February 22, 2011, in New Zealand, resulting in 115 deaths. The collapse was caused by an earthquake, but it is also believed that structural issues and engineering inadequacies, such as lack of ductility in the joints and columns of the building, were contributing factors.

Weiguan Jinlong

Weiguan Jinlong collapsed in Taiwan on February 6, 2016, resulting in 114 deaths. The collapse was caused by an earthquake, although the weak and watered-down concrete used to construct the building was considered a factor.

Reasons For Collapse

The collapses described above were caused by earthquakes or structural failures, with the exception of the World Trade Center, which was the result of targeted terrorist attacks. 

The Worst Building Collapses in History

1Word Trade CenterUnited States20012,996
2Rana PlazaBangladesh20131,134
3Sampoon Department StoreSouth Korea1995502
4Dzhrashen SchoolArmenia1988400
6Canterbury Television BuildingNew Zealand2011115
7Weiguan jinlongTaiwan2016114
8Margalla TowersPakistan200578
9Fengcheng Power StationChina201674
10Kugaiza CinemaJapan193869
11Via GiottoItaly199967
12Katowice Trade HallPoland200665
13Residential BuildingIndia201361
14Maxima SuperstoreLatvia201354
15Highland ToersMalaysia199348
16Synagogue ChurchNigeria201444

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