July 31, 1988
The Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal bridge collapses, killing 32 and injuring 1,634
The collapse was blamed on extreme overcrowding. The terminal was built in 1956 and was not designed to withstand the force of the over 10,000 people attempting to use the bridge and ferries. The influx of visitors was due to those attempting to travel to festivities dedicated to the Kwan Yin Goddess or to celebrate the anniversary of St. Anne’s Church. (The Kwan Yin Goddess festival is considered to be a once-in-a-lifetime event occurring every 60 years.)
Once the weight of travelers exceeded the bridge’s capacity, steel floor beams began to buckle and eventually snapped which caused the floor boards, walls, and roof to collapse as well, crushing the victims.
Malaysian news outlet The Star gathered accounts of the survivors. Ooi Kean Loon, now in his 40s, recounted: “We were walking on the overcrowded platform and I got separated from my mother. Suddenly, I felt a jerk and the whole platform gave way. Everyone just went down. The next thing I remember, I was pinned under a pile of bodies and my shirt was soaked in blood.” Another survivor, Elaine Choy, was quoted by The Star as saying “The screams are the hardest to forget. Till now, I still can remember it like it is engraved in my memory.”
A child victim is pinned beneath rubble next to her mother’s corpse.