25 years ago: the Bijlmer disaster

Bijlmer disaster 10/04/1992 (bijlmermuseum.com)

Bijlmer disaster 10/04/1992 (rizoomes.nl)

Bijlmer disaster 10/04/1992 (recogin.org)

Bijlmer disaster 10/04/1992


In October of 1992 I was a bachelor and living in the Amsterdam Bijlmer. Sunday October 4th, 1992 around 6:30 PM I was at home. The television showed Dutch sports program Studio Sport and I had just eaten. I clearly remember my cats, Bhima and Camille, being very restless. Immediately followed by a dull thud and a huge fireball. An El-Al airplane had crashed on apartment complex Kruitberg. A huge mess, smoke. I vividly remember the smell.

That night I talked to concerned friends and family on the phone and was (happily) able to ease everyone’s minds. Unfortunately, 43 people were not able to do so, as they died during the crash and its aftermath. The following days were unreal. The gaping hole in the complex was a shock every time I passed it. The silent procession a week later was impressive. The images still confront and bring back many memories, especially the scent.

My blog is about music. My last purchase prior to the disaster was R.E.M.’s Automatic For The People, October 1st, 1992. I suspect I played it a lot at the time. The album contains the song Everybody Hurts. The song is about suicide and the reason to not go through with it, but can be applied to the (handling of the) sorrow following this disaster as well.


Well, everybody hurts sometimes
Everybody cries
Everybody hurts sometimes
And everybody hurts sometimes

So hold on, hold on

© Everybody Hurts, R.E.M., 1992

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