Monday, December 06, 2010


the biggest manmade explosion until atomic weapons , picture taken from 13 miles away

The Halifax Disaster

"At 8:40 in the morning, Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship which was chartered by the French government to carry munitions, collided with the unloaded Norwegian ship Imo, chartered by the Commission for Relief in Belgium to carry relief supplies. Mont-Blanc caught fire ten minutes after the collision and exploded about twenty-five minutes later (at 9:04:35 AM).[2] All buildings and structures covering nearly two square kilometres along the adjacent shore of the exploded ship were obliterated, including those in the neighbouring communities of Richmond and Dartmouth. The explosion caused a tsunami in the harbour, and a pressure wave of air that snapped trees, bent iron rails, demolished buildings, grounded vessels, and carried fragments of the Mont-Blanc for kilometres."

"At 9:04:35 AM, the cargo of Mont-Blanc exploded with more force than any man-made explosion before it, equivalent to roughly 3 kilotons of TNT. (Compare to atomic bomb Little Boy dropped in Hiroshima, which had a power of 13 kiloton TNT.) The ship was instantly destroyed in the giant fireball that rose over 1.6 kilometres (1 mi) into the air, forming a large mushroom cloud. Shards of hot metal rained down across Halifax and Dartmouth. The force of the blast triggered a tsunami, which rose up as high as 18 metres above the harbour's high-water mark on the Halifax side, caused by the rapid displacement of harbour water in the vicinity of the blast, followed by water rushing back in towards the shore. The effects were likely compounded by the narrow section of the harbour. There was little information documented on this event as witnesses were generally stunned and injured as the wave washed ashore, though the wave contributed to the death toll, dragging many victims on the harbour front into the waters. Imo was lifted up onto the Dartmouth shore by the tsunami. A black rain of unconsumed carbon from the vessel fell over the city for roughly 10 minutes following the blast, coating survivors and structural debris in the black substance.

Some 1.32 km² (325 acres) of Halifax was destroyed, essentially leaving a 1.6 kilometre (1 mi) radius around the blast site uninhabitable. Many people who had gathered around the ship either to help or watch were amongst those killed in the blast, or were subsequently hit by the resulting tidal wave. Others who had been watching from the windows of their homes and businesses were either killed instantly or severely injured by the flying glass as their windows shattered inwards.

Professor Howard Bronson of Dalhousie University later detailed that the disaster had damaged buildings and shattered windows as far away as Sackville and Windsor Junction, roughly 16 kilometres (10 mi) away. Buildings shook noticeably and items fell from shelves as far away as Truro and New Glasgow, 100 kilometres (62 mi) and 126 kilometres (78 mi) away respectively. The explosion was felt and heard in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, roughly 215 kilometers (135 mi) north, and as far away as North Cape Breton, 360 kilometers (225 mi) east."

"The death toll could have been worse if not for the self-sacrifice of an Intercolonial Railway dispatcher, P. Vincent (Vince) Coleman, operating at the Richmond Railway Yards. He and his co-worker learned of the danger from the burning Mont-Blanc from a sailor and began to flee. Coleman remembered, however, that an incoming passenger train from Saint John, New Brunswick was due to arrive at the rail yard within minutes, and he returned to his post to send out urgent telegraph messages to stop the train.

“Stop trains. Munitions ship on fire. Approaching Pier 6. Goodbye. ”

The train stopped safely. He was then killed in the explosion.


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