March 20, 2017

In Kintampo, Ghana, 18 persons, mostly high school students, were killed when one tree fell.

It happened at a popular "triple-step" waterfall, which is "surrounded by lush vegetation and large overhanging trees," the BBC reports, without telling us the name of the species of tree.

I tried — unsuccessfully — to find the largest number of persons killed by a single falling tree.

I became interested in the subject of trees killing human beings and found the Wikipedia article "Man-eating tree":
Man-eating tree can refer to any of the various legendary carnivorous plants large enough to kill and consume a person or other large animal....
Legendary. These things are not real. The largest carnivorous plant might kill a rat, but not a person. But there was a time when people could believe wild stories like this from 1874 about a human sacrifice in Madigascar:
The slender delicate palpi, with the fury of starved serpents, quivered a moment over her head, then as if instinct with demoniac intelligence fastened upon her in sudden coils round and round her neck and arms; then while her awful screams and yet more awful laughter rose wildly to be instantly strangled down again into a gurgling moan, the tendrils one after another, like great green serpents, with brutal energy and infernal rapidity, rose, retracted themselves, and wrapped her about in fold after fold, ever tightening with cruel swiftness and savage tenacity of anacondas fastening upon their prey.
More stories at the link — along with a sensationalistic illustration. 

22 comments:

Mike said...

I'm sure some enterprising "journalist" will find a link between this falling tree and Global Warming. They are probably the same people who might also believe in man-eating trees.

Kevin said...

"I tried — unsuccessfully — to find the largest number of persons killed by a single falling tree."

This is why we come here, Ann! It's your dedication to push beyond the original confines of the storyline and find the more interesting story which, er, lies underneath...

rcocean said...

Not only are their no "killer trees" - the dangerous nature of piranhas was vastly exaggerated in the 19th century.

David said...

I have suppressed the Inappropriate jokes about tree hugging.

When the hurricane came through here (South Carolina) last fall, there were no fatalities in my coastal community. Since then three men have died when damaged trees fell on them in three separate incidents. Two of the dead were experienced foresters.

The force of a large falling tree is astonishing.

Nonapod said...

The students were swimming during a storm when the freak accident happened

I think I knew that swimming during a storm is Bad Idea Jeans™ by the time I was five.

Fernandinande said...

These guys will sue the negligent tree for you.

Fernandinande said...

rcocean said...
Not only are their no "killer trees" - the dangerous nature of piranhas was vastly exaggerated in the 19th century.


I was almost lured to my death by mermaids, but at the last minute a levitating fakir saved me.

MadisonMan said...

I'm sure some enterprising "journalist" will find a link between this falling tree and Global Warming

The link would be, I think, in the conversion of CO2 to wood -- if there is more CO2 in the air, does the wood that is created have more or less tensile strength? That would be an interesting experiment to run.

Mike said...

Well MM I was a simple "Earth Sciences" teacher in public junior highs and high schools, but I recall that CO2 is generally understood to be beneficial to plants. And in later experiments involving beer-brewing and hydroponics I can attest that extra CO2 supplied by the wort to the plant environment was far in excess of anything measured in our atmosphere by humans and resulted in especially green leaves and sweet blossoms. Can't attest to tensile strength, but my hunch is that the tree's trunk was not weakened by the minuscule rise in CO2 over the last century.

JAORE said...

The coca plant has consumed many thousands.

YoungHegelian said...

I live in a wooded neighborhood. Last week a tree came down on a house a block away & took out a third of it. The house is a well-built mid-50's vintage brick colonial, but that tree walloped it anyway.

I had a 40 ft tulip poplar & a 35 ft red oak taken down in January. It was amazing how heavy & dense the chunks of still-green oak were.

YoungHegelian said...

Man-eating tree can refer to any of the various legendary carnivorous plants large enough to kill and consume a person or other large animal....

"Legendary"! Legendary, indeed!

I have it on very good authority that both The Day of the Triffids & The Man-Eater of Surrey Green are based on a true story.

Bob Boyd said...

If a tree falls in the forest and kills everyone who could hear it.....

khematite said...

But even Snopes confirms that in 1982 a saguaro cactus in Arizona killed a man who had shot it.

http://www.snopes.com/horrors/freakish/saguaro.asp

Static Ping said...

I am guessing that the swimming area was densely populated and the tree fell on the area, killing some from the impact and drowning others who were knocked out or were trapped underneath the tree and could not get air. The story does not go into details so that is a guess. My first thought was that the three fell down at the top of a waterfall and pushed a crowd off the ledge. The second thought was that the tree was filled with climbers, gave out under the weight, and fell off a cliff.

I also suspect that if it were possible to research this topic, the biggest tree fatality count would be due to secondary effects, such as knocking something over that caused a massive fire or hitting a building resulting in its collapse.

Gahrie said...

I'm sure some enterprising "journalist" will find a link between this falling tree and Global Warming

Personally...I can't wait to see how Chuckles blames this on Trump.....

Wilbur said...

In the movie "Spencer's Mountain" a tree fell on Grandpa and purchased him a ticket on the glory-bound train. I think it broke Henry Fonda's leg, too.

Q. said...

Kite Eating Tree!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kite-Eating_Tree

Static Ping said...

The idea of man-eating plants is not ridiculous. If plant life can eat small mammals then the concept of a tree eating larger creatures is certainly possible. While there are no known examples of such a thing, it is well established that the flora can cause injury, sometimes serious or fatal, with various defenses such as thorns, poisons, and toxins. It is not entirely out of the question that there were once man-eating plants that were wiped out, much like there apparently were man-eating eagles at one time that were driven to extinction.

For fiction, this can be a ton of fun as the imagination runs wild. You can make creatures that are basically larger versions of existing carnivorous plants, like Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors, or get creative with, say, a soul-sucking oak tree, or come up with some demonic hybrid like the Star Wars sarlacc. It also opens up the questions of how to kill a tree, given it presumably has no organs to destroy and does not bleed. Fire is popular.

Jeff Boulier said...

There is a South American bromeliad which apparently eats sheep. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-surrey-22967160

Fernandinande said...

Jeff Boulier said...
There is a South American bromeliad which apparently eats sheep. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-surrey-22967160


Shocking! Fake News from the BBC.

Puya Chilensis: Media fooled by “sheep-eating plant”

Basil Duke said...

During the Civil War, a group of Confederate soldiers from the Army of Tennessee were seated on benches for on out-doors church service when a tree fell over and crushed to death 11 or 12 worshipers. Among others, the 1st Tennessee's Sam Watkins (author of "Company Aytch") mentioned it in his post-war writings.