Halifax Explosion Summary:December 6, 1917_About the Halifax Explosion:
The Halifax Explosion occurred when a Belgian relief vessel and a French munitions carrier collided in Halifax Harbour during World War I. Crowds gathered around to watch the fire from the initial collision. The munitions ship drifted towards the pier and after twenty minutes blew sky high. More fires started and spread, and a tsunami wave was created. Thousands were killed and injured and much of Halifax was destroyed. To add to the disaster, a snowstorm started the next day, and lasted for nearly a week.
Date:December 6, 1917
- The Belgian relief vessel Imo was leaving Halifax Harbour on its way to New York and the French munitions ship Mont Blanc was on its way to wait for a convoy when the two ships collided at 8:45 am.
- The munitions ship was carrying picric acid, gun cotton and TNT. Her top deck carried benzol which spilled and burned.
- For 20 minutes crowds collected around Halifax Harbour to watch the billowing smoke filled with sparks and fire as the Mont Blanc drifted towards Pier 6. While crews from nearby ships raced to put out the blaze, the captain and crew of the Mont Blanc rowed in lifeboats for the Dartmouth shore. When the crew landed they tried to warn people to run.
- The Mont Blanc rammed Pier 6, setting its wood pilings on fire.
- The Mont Blanc exploded, flattening everything within 800 metres (2600 feet), and causing damage for 1.6 km (1 mile). The explosion was said to have been heard as far away as Prince Edward Island.
- Fires spread quickly after the explosion.
- Water around the ship vaporized, a huge tsunami wave flooded the streets of Halifax and Dartmouth and swept many people back into the harbour where they drowned.
- The next day, one of the worst blizzards ever recorded in Halifax began, and lasted for six days.
- Relief came immediately from the troops in the area. Assistance also poured in from the Maritimes, central Canada and the northeastern United States in the form of medical supplies and workers, food, clothing, building supplies and labourers, and money. Emergency teams from Massachusetts arrived, and many stayed for months.