From At Home: A Short History of Private Life, by Bill Bryson:
Because of the limits on his funds, Bazalgette could afford to take the sewage only as far as the eastern edge of the metropolis, to a place called Barking Reach. There mighty outfall pipes disgorged 150 million gallons of raw, lumpy, potently malodorous sewage into the Thames each day. Barking was still twenty miles from the open sea, as the dismayed and unfortunate people all along those twenty miles never stopped pointing out, but the tides were vigorous enough to haul most of the discharge safely (if not always odorlessly) out to sea, and ensured that there were never again any sewage-related epidemics in London.
The new sewage outfalls did, however, have an unfortunate role in the greatest tragedy ever experienced on the Thames. In September 1878, a pleasure boat named the Princess Alice, packed to overflowing with day-trippers, was returning to London after a day at the seaside, when it collided with another ship at Barking at the very place and moment when the two giant outfall pipes surged into action. The Princess Alice sank in less than five minutes. Nearly eight hundred people drowned in a choking sludge of raw sewage. Even those who could swim found it nearly impossible to make headway through the glutinous filth. For days afterward bodies bobbed to the surface. Many, the Times reported, were so bloated with gaseous bacteria that they wouldn’t fit into normal coffins.
People have been pointing to natural disasters as proof against the existence of a loving God for centuries. What moral lesson can be drawn from mass destruction and casualties following an earthquake? What does the “free will” justification so often used to explain evil in the world have to do with fires and floods?
That kind of suffering is bad enough, but I wonder why events like this don’t get similar attention. After all, this isn’t just a case of needless death on a grand scale. It’s almost like this was designed to additionally inflict the maximum loss of dignity just for the sheer, gratuitous hell of it. But if it was designed, rather than symbolic of an uncaring universe, you’d have to conclude that God is one seriously disturbed motherfucker. Or even more terrifying, perhaps God is something like a character from a Mike Myers or Wayans brothers movie gone stark raving mad, forcing humankind to endure real-life toilet humor just to make Him giggle.
Malachi 2:3 — “Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces…”