Halifax Explosion

The Halifax Explosion was a maritime disaster in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, which happened on the morning of 6 December 1917. The Norwegian vessel SS Imo collided with SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship laden with high explosives, in the Narrows, a strait connecting the upper Halifax Harbour to Bedford Basin. A fire on board the French ship ignited her cargo, causing a large explosion that devastated the Richmond district of Halifax. Approximately 2,000 people were killed by the blast, debris, fires or collapsed buildings, and an estimated 9,000 others were injured. The blast was the largest man-made explosion at the time, releasing the equivalent energy of roughly 2.9 kilotons of TNT (12,000 GJ).Mont-Blanc was under orders from the French government to carry her cargo of high explosives from New York City via Halifax to Bordeaux, France. At roughly 8:45 am, she collided at low speed, approximately one knot (1.2 mph or 1.9 km/h), with the unladen Imo, chartered by the Commission for Relief in Belgium to pick up a cargo of relief supplies in New York. The resulting fire on board the French ship quickly grew out of control. Approximately 20 minutes later at 9:04:35 am, the Mont-Blanc exploded.Nearly all structures within an 800-metre (half-mile) radius, including the community of Richmond, were obliterated. A pressure wave snapped trees, bent iron rails, demolished buildings, grounded vessels (including Imo, which was washed ashore by the ensuing tsunami), and scattered fragments of Mont-Blanc for kilometres. Across the harbour, in Dartmouth, there was also widespread damage. A tsunami created by the blast wiped out the community of the Mi'kmaq First Nation who had lived in the Tufts Cove area for generations.Relief efforts began almost immediately, and hospitals quickly became full. Rescue trains began arriving the day of the explosion from across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick while other trains from central Canada and the northeastern United States were impeded by blizzards. Construction of temporary shelters to house the many people left homeless began soon after the disaster. The initial judicial inquiry found Mont-Blanc to have been responsible for the disaster, but a later appeal determined that both vessels were to blame. There are several memorials to the victims of the explosion in the North End.
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