Tuesday, December 06, 2016

On This Day In Canadian History...
1917 - Downtown Halifax is blown to pieces as a French munitions freighter, the Mont Blanc, coming through the Narrows carrying 2,300 tons of picric acid, 200 tons of TNT, 35 tons of high octane gasoline, and 10 tons of gun cotton, collides with the Belgium steamship Imo, outbound to New York City, at 8:45 am. The Mont Blanc is propelled towards the shore by the collision, its picric acid ablaze, and the crew abandon ship, after failing to alert the harbour of the peril. Minutes later the blazing ship brushes by a pier, setting it ablaze. The Halifax Fire Department respond quickly, and are just positioning their engine up to the nearest hydrant when the Mont Blanc explodes at 9:05 am in a blinding white flash. The blast levels downtown Halifax, killing 2,000, injuring over 8,000, leaving 10,000 homeless, and doing $50 million damage. All buildings and structures covering nearly 2 square kilometres along the adjacent shore were obliterated, the explosion caused a tsunami in the harbour and a pressure wave of air that snapped trees, bent iron rails, demolished buildings, grounded vessels, and carried fragments of the Mont-Blanc for kilometres. The shock wave shattered windows in Truro, 100 km away, and the sound can be heard in Charlottetown. The greatest man-made explosion before the atomic bomb. 

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