A tragedy waiting to happen
Sunday 28 March 1999
Certainly lessons are being learnt after the Channel Tunnel blaze in 1996. Eurotunnel paid a high price in lost revenue while it repaired the damaged tunnel. It was fortunate that no one was killed, and that the tunnel was reparable. It now scrutinises everything going into the Chunnel, has revamped its emergency procedures, and plans to introduce sophisticated and expensive fire suppression systems on its shuttles. Those in charge at Mont Blanc will be going through a similar analysis and asking engineers to work out what went wrong.
At just over seven miles, the Mont Blanc is a long tunnel; the world's longest road tunnel, the St Gotthards in Switzerland, is just three miles longer. When Mont Blanc opened in 1965 it was an amazing structure. It still is; certainly the amount of traffic using it is significantly higher than it was designed to carry.
But its age means it does not have many of the safety features now considered mandatory. It has no separate service tunnel, relying instead on refuge bays every 300m. It is not impossible to make older structures such as this much safer, at a price. Containing a fire quickly is the key. Poor communications and emergency procedures allowed the Chunnel fire to escalate; Mont Blanc appears to have been no different.
Antony Oliver is news editor of `New Civil Engineer'
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for? The Independent quiz matches best political party for undecided voters ahead of the general election
First-time buyers in London 'need to earn at least £77,000'
General Election 2015: Photographic history of Bullingdon Club tracked down - including new picture of David Cameron in his finery
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...
£30 - 40k (£65k Y1 OTE Uncapped): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Business Deve...
Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...
£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...