The Merriespruit tailings dam disaster occurred on the night of 22 February 1994 when a tailings dam failed and flooded the suburb of Merriespruit, Virginia, Free State, South Africa. Seventeen people were killed as a result.
Late in the afternoon on the day of the failure, a thunderstorm occurred and about 50 mm of rain fell within 30 minutes. When the dam failed, 600 000 m³ of liquid flowed 4 km. The nearest houses were located 300 m downslope of the dam; when the wave of water and tailings reached them, it was 2.5 m high.
Seventeen people were killed and there was widespread devastation and environmental damage. Eighty houses were destroyed.
Click here to download the 1994 Merriespruit Disaster Paper Fourie