1917: The Most Powerful Explosion Before the Nuclear Bomb

1917: The Most Powerful Explosion Before the Nuclear Bomb

Story Highlights

  • historical event: 2,300,000 kg of explosives detonated due to a fire on the ship that was carrying them. Fragments of the ship that exploded flew up to 5,500 meters away. The force of the explosion killed nearly 2,000 people on the coast.

On this day one of the biggest explosions in history occured, when 2,300,000 kilograms of explosives were detonate daboard a French ship, after a fire broke out aboard it. It was the time of World War I and the ship was carrying explosives intended for the French army. On the way, she sailed into the Canadian city of Halifax in order to join a convoy to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Entering Halifax, ship bearing explosives collided with a Norwegian freighter that was just sailing out. 

The crash did not cause severe damage, but a fire broke out on the ship loaded with explosives. After 25 minutes, there was an explosion whose strength was estimated at 2.9 kilotons of TNT, the strongest man-made explosion until the first atomic bomb testing. In the city of Halifax, nearly 2,000 people were killed by the impact, collapsing buildings, and a 18-meter high wave caused by the explosion. An additional 9,000 people were injured. 1,630 houses were destroyed and another 12,000 damaged. Fragments of the exploded ship flew up to 5,500 meters away.

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