The Halifax Explosion

History Lesson - The Halifax Explosion: December 6th, 1971 the French ship Mont-Blanc left her anchorage outside the mouth of the Halifax harbour. She was loaded with 2,300 tons of wet and dry picric acid, 200 tons of TNT, 10 tons of gun cotton and 35 tons of benzol: a highly explosive mixture. At the same time the Norwegian vessel Imo was trying to leave the harbour. After a series of ill-judged manoeuvres, the Imo struck the Mont-Blanc on the bow. Although the collision was not severe, fire immediately broke out on board the Mont-Blanc. The captain, pilot and crew, expecting the ship to blow up immediately, launched the lifeboats and took refuge on the Dartmouth shore. Around 1.5 hours later, just before 9.05 a.m., the Mont-Blanc exploded. Not one piece of her remained beside the dock where she had finished her voyage. Fragments rained on the surrounding area, crashing through buildings with enough force to embed them where they landed. Churches, houses, schools, factories, docks and ships were destroyed in the swath of the blast. Children who had stopped on their way to school, workmen lining the windows, families in their homes, sailors in their ships, died instantly. Injuries were frightful, blindness from the splintering glass adding to the shock and bewilderment. Hardly a pane of glass in Halifax and Dartmouth was left intact. The tremours were felt in Prince Edward Island! This was the largest man-made explosion until the atomic age, when its effects were studied by Oppenheimer in calculating the strength of the bombs for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Boston, USA rose to the aid of Halifax and for that each Christmas the huge tree that glitters in Prudential Plaza in Boston is a thank-you gift from the people of Nova Scotia. More info here: