The heroines of Halifax and the world’s greatest explosion
"The city was the site of the largest man-made explosion before Hiroshima." In 1917, a ship collision In Halifax, Canada ended in the biggest accidental blast the world has ever seen — and while the city’s male leaders dithered, an inspiring band of volunteer nurses leapt into action. Claire Horn tells their remarkable story in Narratively. "As the ships attempted to pass one another, the Imo struck the Mont-Blanc, causing the fuel to spill and ignite. The Mont-Blanc’s crew fled in lifeboats bound for the city of Dartmouth across the water, shouting to anyone in earshot that an explosion was coming, while the freighter drifted ablaze toward the Halifax shore. After burning for long enough to attract crowds of sailors working on the docks and curious children delaying their arrival at school, the ship exploded. The blast’s shock wave briefly revealed the bottom of the harbour and shattered windows throughout the cities of Halifax and Dartmouth and the city of Truro, 60 miles away. An estimated 2,000 people were killed instantly, and another 9,000 were injured; 25,000 were left homeless, and many were trapped beneath the rubble of their homes or workplaces. The community of Richmond, closest to the blast, was decimated. Though fires burned across the city, all but one of the members of the crew responsible for Halifax’s lone fire truck had been killed while attempting to extinguish the Mont-Blanc."