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The human-induced hazard of Hungary

April 2011

Not all hazards are natural: a red mudflow from an industrial reservoir devastated parts of Hungary recently, killing nine people

The human-induced hazard of Hungary

In October 2010, Hungary experienced an unusual kind of hazard. A bright red-coloured mudflow quickly overwhelmed several settlements and a large rural area of 40,000 km2.

The liquid industrial waste poured into local tributaries of the river Danube and only swift action by local authorities prevented a major ecological disaster from spreading across Europe.

The cause of the event was an escape of liquid industrial waste from a poorly-maintained storage reservoir that experienced dam failure. Geographers define an event like this as a human-induced (technological) hazard. This article explores the causes, consequences and response to the hazardous waste spill.


This case study supports AS/A2 and IB geography courses with a natural hazards component.

The article explores the immediate causes and consequences of the event and also provides some analysis of the post-event response and reconstruction efforts.

In the Members' Area:

  • The causes and impacts of the red mudflow
  • Disaster event aftermath: the rescue and reconstruction response
  • Practice A2 / IB diploma question
  • References

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