halifax accident 1917
, Adding to the chaos were fears of a potential second explosion. Halifax explosion, also called Halifax explosion of 1917 or the Great Halifax Explosion, devastating explosion on December 6, 1917, that occurred when a munitions ship blew up in the harbour of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Roughly 5,900 eye injuries were reported, and 41 people lost their sight permanently.  An area of over 160 hectares (400 acres) was completely destroyed by the explosion, and the harbour floor was momentarily exposed by the volume of water that was displaced. Imo's prow pushed into the No.  Mackey kept his eye on the ferry traffic between Halifax and Dartmouth and other small boats in the area.  In 2015, the remaining fragments were shipped to Bonet's family in Montreal despite a public campaign to return the sculpture to memorial display. On the Mont-Blanc, the impact damaged benzol barrels stored on deck, leaking vapours which were ignited by sparks from the collision, setting off a fire on board that quickly grew out of control. , The success of German U-boat attacks on ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean led the Allies to institute a convoy system to reduce losses while transporting goods and soldiers to Europe. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox.  Both ships had cut their engines by this point, but their momentum carried them right on top of each other at slow speed. , Royal Navy cruisers in port sent some of the first organized rescue parties ashore. The Halifax community remembers the disaster each December 6 with a service at the memorial bell tower located in Fort Needham Park.  All neutral ships bound for ports in North America were required to report to Halifax for inspection. Guess this will be my last message. Firefighter Billy Wells, who was thrown away from the explosion and had his clothes torn from his body, described the devastation survivors faced: "The sight was awful, with people hanging out of windows dead. , Coordinates: 44°40′09″N 63°35′47″W / 44.66917°N 63.59639°W / 44.66917; -63.59639, This article is about the disaster. On the morning of December 6, 1917, a navigation accident occurred where two vessels collided in the narrows of the Halifax Harbor. Halifax Explosion on 6 December 1917: 2.9 kt of TNT (12 TJ) 5.  The tree is Boston's official Christmas tree and is lit on Boston Common throughout the holiday season.  Every building within a 2.6-kilometre (1.6 mi) radius, over 12,000 in total, was destroyed or badly damaged. Thousands of people had stopped to watch the ship burning in the harbour, many from inside buildings, leaving them directly in the path of glass fragments from shattered windows.  Ships were restricted to a speed of 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) within the harbour. Construction of temporary shelters to house the many people left homeless began soon after the disaster. The munitions ship drifted towards the pier and after twenty minutes blew sky high.  The city's industrial sector was in large part gone, with many workers among the casualties and the dockyard heavily damaged.  Soon afterwards, Imo was forced to head even further towards the Dartmouth shore after passing the tugboat Stella Maris, which was travelling up the harbour to Bedford Basin near mid-channel. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. As black, oily soot rained down from the mushroom cloud, survivors found the streets of Halifax were littered with severed arms, legs, heads, and mutilated torsos.  Drysdale agreed with Dominion Wreck Commissioner L. A. Demers' opinion that "it was the Mont-Blanc's responsibility alone to ensure that she avoided a collision at all costs" given her cargo; he was likely influenced by local opinion, which was strongly anti-French, as well as by the "street fighter" style of argumentation used by Imo lawyer Charles Burchell.  The Bell Tower is the location of an annual civic ceremony every 6 December. Unable to ground his ship for fear of a shock that would set off his explosive cargo, Mackey ordered Mont-Blanc to steer hard to port (starboard helm) and crossed the bow of Imo in a last-second bid to avoid a collision. Le Mont-Blanc prit feu et explosa vingt minutes plus tard, tuant 2 000 personnes et en blessant des milliers d'autres. The ship entered the Narrows well above the harbour's speed limit in an attempt to make up for the delay experienced in loading her coal. Schedule: From 20:00 on 1 Dec 2020 to 06:00 on 2 Dec 2020. 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. In the North End, there are several memorials to the victims of the explosion. The film shows what one family - the Collins family -went thru during this time.  The new military hospital, Camp Hill, admitted approximately 1,400 victims on 6 December. It was at this point that the blast occurred.  The frantic crew of Mont-Blanc shouted from their two lifeboats to some of the other vessels that their ship was about to explode, but they could not be heard above the noise and confusion. 2019 bk 144 - The explosion at Halifax on December 6, 1917 was the largest man-made explosion until the the atomic bomb explosions in 1945.  Mont-Blanc's forward 90-mm gun landed approximately 5.6 kilometres (3.5 mi) north of the explosion site near Albro Lake in Dartmouth with its barrel melted away, and the shank of Mont-Blanc's anchor, weighing half a ton, landed 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) south at Armdale. For instance, in its report on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Time wrote that the explosive power of the Little Boy bomb was seven times that of the Halifax Explosion. Chargé de munitions, il s’apprête à rejoindre un convoi vers l’Europe. Coleman remembered that an incoming passenger train from Saint John, New Brunswick, was due to arrive at the railyard within minutes. After exchanging warning signals, both vessels initiated evasion maneuvers but ultimately collided. The collision and fire attracted crowds of spectators on the docks and in nearby homes and streets. 10, the overnight train from Saint John, is believed to have heeded the warning and stopped a safe distance from the blast at Rockingham, saving the lives of about 300 railway passengers.  All but one of the Mont-Blanc crew members survived. , The completion of the Intercolonial Railway and its Deep Water Terminal in 1880 allowed for increased steamship trade and led to accelerated development of the port area, but Halifax faced an economic downturn in the 1890s as local factories lost ground to competitors in central Canada. However, just after 9:04 am, the Mont-Blanc exploded. Several variations of the message have been reported, among them this from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic: "Hold up the train. The five-inch (127-millimetre) hawser initially produced was deemed too small and orders for a ten-inch (254-millimetre) hawser came down. The loading of fuel was not completed until after the anti-sub… Approximately 20 minutes later at 9:04:35 am, the Mont-Blanc exploded. Updates? The train was loaded with injured and left the city at 1:30 with a doctor aboard, to evacuate the wounded to Truro.  The shock wave from the blast travelled through the earth at nearly 23 times the speed of sound and was felt as far away as Cape Breton (207 kilometres or 129 miles) and Prince Edward Island (180 kilometres or 110 miles). A Norwegian ship, the SS Imo, had slammed into the SS Mont-Blanc, a French ship filled to the brim with TNT, picric acid, benezole, and guncotton.  The captain ordered Mont-Blanc to halt her engines and angle slightly to starboard, closer to the Dartmouth side of the Narrows.  That gift was revived in 1971 by the Lunenburg County Christmas Tree Producers Association, which began an annual donation of a large tree to promote Christmas tree exports as well as acknowledge Boston's support after the explosion. At 9:05 a.m., in the harbor of Halifax in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, the most devastating manmade explosion in the pre-atomic age occurs when the Mont Blanc, a French munitions ship, explodes 20 minutes after colliding with another vessel.  The planners designed 326 large homes that each faced a tree-lined, paved boulevard. Omissions? The overnight train from Saint John was just approaching the city when hit by the blast but was only slightly damaged. at the windows of their homes or businesses to watch the spectacular fire. , The Norwegian ship SS Imo had sailed from the Netherlands en route to New York to take on relief supplies for Belgium, under the command of Haakon From. On December 6, 1917, a terrible accident put an exclamation point on what had been a very difficult year for the Allies and for Canada in the War. Mackey gave a short blast of his ship's signal whistle to indicate that he had the right of way but was met with two short blasts from Imo, indicating that the approaching vessel would not yield its position.  The physical structures of the settlement were obliterated by the explosion and tsunami. Status: Pending. The two ships were almost parallel to each other, when Imo suddenly sent out three signal blasts, indicating the ship was reversing its engines.  As many as 1,600 people died immediately in the blast, tsunami, and collapse of buildings. Lane closures: Lanes 1 and 2 will be closed. , An estimated c$35 million in damage resulted (c$591 million today). An extensive comparison of 130 major explosions by Halifax historian Jay White in 1994 concluded that it "remains unchallenged in overall magnitude as long as five criteria are considered together: number of casualties, force of blast, radius of devastation, quantity of explosive material, and total value of property destroyed. The Canadian Government Railways created a special unit to clear and repair railway yards as well as rebuild railway piers and the Naval Dockyard.  A US Coast Guard cutter, USRC Morrill, also sent a rescue party ashore. On the morning of December 6, 1917, a navigation accident occurred where two vessels collided in the narrows of the Halifax Harbor.  The British garrison left the city in late 1905 and early 1906. , First rescue efforts came from surviving neighbours and co-workers who pulled and dug out victims from buildings.  No party was ever convicted for any crime or otherwise successfully prosecuted for any actions that precipitated the disaster. The force of the wave heaved the Imo toward the shore where it became grounded.  Captain Symington of USS Tacoma speculated that the port would not be operational for months, but a convoy departed on 11 December and dockyard operations resumed before Christmas. Though she had been given clearance to leave the port on 5 December, Imo's departure was delayed because her coal load did not arrive until late that afternoon.  Halifax Fire Department's West Street Station 2 was the first to arrive at Pier 6 with the crew of the Patricia, the first motorized fire engine in Canada.  About $30 million in financial aid was raised from various sources, including $18 million from the federal government, over $4 million from the British government, and $750,000 from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Prime Minister Robert Borden pledged that the government would be "co-operating in every way to reconstruct the Port of Halifax: this was of utmost importance to the Empire". The committee organized members in charge of organizing medical relief for both Halifax and Dartmouth, supplying transportation, food and shelter, and covering medical and funeral costs for victims. The Halifax explosion is regarded an unparalleled chapter in the history of maritime disasters. The Halifax Explosion Remembrance Book, an official database of the Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management, identified 1,782 victims. Unbeknownst to others in the harbour, the Mont-Blanc was carrying 2,925 metric tons (about 3,224 short tons) of explosives—including 62 metric tons (about 68 short tons) of guncotton, 246 metric tons (about 271 short tons) of benzol, 250 metric tons (about 276 short tons) of trinitrotoluene (TNT), and 2,367 metric tons (about 2,609 short tons) of picric acid—destined for the French war effort. Shortly before 9:00 am the Imo, a Norwegian steamship carrying supplies for the Belgian Relief Commission (a World War I-era relief organization), headed out of Halifax Harbour and found itself on a collision course with the French steamship Mont-Blanc. , The French cargo ship SS Mont-Blanc arrived from New York late on 5 December, under the command of Aimé Le Medec. Tacoma was rocked so severely by the blast wave that her crew went to general quarters.  A large army garrison protected the city with forts, gun batteries, and anti-submarine nets. Nearly all structures within an 800-metre (half-mile) radius, including the community of Richmond, were obliterated.  It turned out that the letter was actually written in Norwegian. , Surviving railway workers in the railyards at the heart of the disaster carried out rescue work, pulling people from the harbour and from under debris.  The film was criticized for distortions and inaccuracies. , The convoys departed under the protection of British cruisers and destroyers. The captain's son, First Mate Walter Brannen, who had been thrown into the hold by the blast, survived, as did four others.   Following in MacLennan's footsteps, journalist Robert MacNeil penned Burden of Desire (1992) and used the explosion as a metaphor for the societal and cultural changes of the day. By late January 1918, around 5,000 were still without shelter.  A company of the Royal Canadian Engineers (RCE) repaired and converted the basement of the school to serve as a morgue and classrooms to serve as offices for the Halifax coroner. , Hugh MacLennan's novel Barometer Rising (1941) is set in Halifax at the time of the explosion and includes a carefully researched description of its impact on the city. , Francis Mackey, an experienced harbour pilot, had boarded Mont-Blanc on the evening of 5 December 1917; he had asked about "special protections" such as a guard ship, given the Mont-Blanc's cargo, but no protections were put in place. was the halifax explosion an accident. After the explosion, the Halifax Relief Commission approached the reconstruction of Richmond as an opportunity to improve and modernize the city's North End. , Partial train service resumed from a temporary rail terminal in the city's South End on 7 December. Across the harbour, in Dartmouth, there was also widespread damage. , Dartmouth was not as densely populated as Halifax and was separated from the blast by the width of the harbour, but still suffered heavy damage.  Out at sea, the American cruiser USS Tacoma and armed merchant cruiser USS Von Steuben (formerly SS Kronprinz Wilhelm) were passing Halifax en route to the United States. The last body, a caretaker killed at the Exhibition Grounds, was not recovered until the summer of 1919.  Men and women turned out to serve as everything from hospital aides to shelter staff, while children contributed to the relief effort by carrying messages from site to site. A tsunami was formed by water surging in to fill the void; it rose as high as 18 metres (60 ft) above the high-water mark on the Halifax side of the harbour. Mont-Blanc was under orders from the French government to carry her cargo from New York City via Halifax to Bordeaux, France. Therefore, the vessel could not weigh anchor until the next morning. ship explosion, Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada . Location: The M621 eastbound between junctions J3 (City Centre) and J7 (Stourton) . , A judicial inquiry known as the Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry was formed to investigate the causes of the collision. These ignited the vapours from the benzol. , The event was traumatic for the whole surviving community, so the memory was largely suppressed. A fire on board the French ship ignited her cargo, causing a massive explosion that devastated the Richmond district of Halifax. He let out another single blast of his whistle, hoping the other vessel would likewise move to starboard but was again met with a double-blast. His insights from the explosion are generally credited with inspiring him to pioneer the specialty of pediatric surgery in North America. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/event/Halifax-explosion, The Canadian Encyclopedia - The Halifax Explosion, Canadian War Museum - The Halifax Explosion. His decision (27 April 1918) found Mont-Blanc entirely at fault. The collision cracked open the barrel of benezole, dousing the ship in flammable chemicals. Halifax was isolated by the storm, and rescue committees were forced to suspend the search for survivors; the storm aided efforts to put out fires throughout the city. The North End Halifax neighbourhood of Richmond bore the brunt of the explosion.  The outbreak of the war brought Halifax back to prominence. Von Steuben arrived a half-hour later. News of the disaster spread quickly, and aid soon arrived from within Canada as well as from the United States. A memorial at the Halifax Fire Station on Lady Hammond Road honours the firefighters killed while responding to the explosion. Destruction was widespread, with many homes destroyed or damaged. It continued into Richmond until the track was blocked by wreckage. After the crash A growing number of Halifax citizens gathered on the street or stood.  Passenger Train No. , The Halifax Explosion was one of the largest artificial non-nuclear explosions. This is a true story about the horrific explosion in Halifax harbour in Dec 1917. Aftermath of the 1917 Halifax Explosion HMS Highflyer, along with the armed merchant cruisers HMS Changuinola, HMS Knight Templar and HMS Calgarian, sent boats ashore with rescue parties and medical personnel and soon began to take wounded aboard. The Halifax Explosion occurred when a Belgian relief vessel and a French munitions carrier collided in Halifax Harbour during World War I. The fire was quickly put out; the cloud was seen from blocks away and quickly led to rumours that another explosion was imminent. All available troops were called in from harbour fortifications and barracks to the North End to rescue survivors and provide transport to the city's hospitals, including the two army hospitals in the city.  By nightfall, a dozen trains had reached Halifax from the Nova Scotian towns of Truro, Kentville, Amherst, Stellarton, Pictou, and Sydney and from the New Brunswick towns of Sackville, Moncton and Saint John.  Uniformed officers ordered everyone away from the area. , Towing two scows at the time of the collision, Stella Maris responded immediately to the fire, anchoring the barges and steaming back towards Pier 6 to spray the burning ship with their fire hose. , A mortuary committee chaired by Alderman R. B. Coldwell was quickly formed at Halifax City Hall on the morning of the disaster. Good-bye boys."  Ships carrying dangerous cargo were not allowed into the harbour before the war, but the risks posed by German submarines had resulted in a relaxation of regulations.  Subsequent appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada (19 May 1919), and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London (22 March 1920), determined Mont-Blanc and Imo were equally to blame for navigational errors that led to the collision. More than 1,600 buildings were destroyed by the wave, and debris was scattered for several miles. , A cloud of white smoke rose to at least 3,600 metres (11,800 ft).  The ship was completely blown apart and a powerful blast wave radiated away from the explosion initially at more than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) per second.  A precise Mi'kmaq death toll is unknown; records show that nine bodies were recovered, and the settlement was not rebuilt in the wake of the disaster. One of the ships in the collision, the Mont-Blanc, was dangerously overladen with hazardous cargo, including explosives in its bulk cargo hold and barrels of …  All three men were charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence at a preliminary hearing heard by Stipendiary Magistrate Richard A. McLeod, and bound over for trial. Reason: Barrier repairs are planned. Johansen was arrested on suspicions of being a German spy when a search turned up a letter on his person, supposedly written in German. He returned to his post alone and continued to send out urgent telegraph messages to stop the train. The North Street Station, one of the busiest in Canada, was badly damaged. A Memorial Book listing the names of all the known victims is displayed at the Halifax North Memorial Library and at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which has a large permanent exhibit about the Halifax Explosion. Trains en route from other parts of Canada and from the United States were stalled in snowdrifts, and telegraph lines that had been hastily repaired following the explosion were again knocked down. , Led by Lieutenant Governor MacCallum Grant, leading citizens formed the Halifax Relief Commission at around noon. , Every building in the Halifax dockyard required some degree of rebuilding, as did HMCS Niobe and the docks themselves; all of the Royal Canadian Navy's minesweepers and patrol boats were undamaged. He was the only member of the eight-man crew of the fire engine Patricia to survive.  This dockyard later became the command centre of the Royal Canadian Navy upon its founding in 1910. Patrick Vincent Coleman (13 March 1872 – 6 December 1917) was a train dispatcher for the Canadian Government Railways (formerly the ICR, Intercolonial Railway of Canada) who was killed in the Halifax Explosion, but not before he sent a message to an incoming passenger train to stop out of range of the explosion. Proceedings began at the Halifax Court House on 13 December 1917, presided over by Justice Arthur Drysdale. , The many eye injuries resulting from the disaster led to better understanding on the part of physicians of how to care for damaged eyes, and "with the recently formed Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Halifax became internationally known as a centre for care for the blind", according to Dalhousie University professor Victoria Allen. These factors drove a major military, industrial, and residential expansion of the city, and the weight of goods passing through the harbour increased nearly ninefold.  Troops at gun batteries and barracks immediately turned out in case the city was under attack, but within an hour switched from defence to rescue roles as the cause and location of the explosion were determined. The gift was later taken over by the Nova Scotia Government to continue the goodwill gesture as well as to promote trade and tourism.  Families recorded the deaths of five residents. After the first anniversary, the city stopped commemorating the explosion for decades. Dabei kollidierte der französische Munitionsfrachter Mont Blanc mit dem norwegischen Schiff Imo.  Hospital ships brought the wounded to the city, and a new military hospital was constructed in the city. , The black community of Africville, on the southern shores of Bedford Basin adjacent to the Halifax Peninsula, was spared the direct force of the blast by the shadow effect of the raised ground to the south. A fire started at the water line and travelled quickly up the side of the ship.  The Richmond Railway Yards and station were destroyed, killing 55 railway workers and destroying and damaging over 500 railway cars. 1 hold of Mont Blanc, on her starboard side.  A flood of victims soon began to arrive at the city's hospitals, which were quickly overwhelmed.  The commission would continue until 1976, participating in reconstruction and relief efforts and later distributing pensions to survivors. The explosion, on Thursday 6 December 1917… How did it happen? Schedule: From 20:00 on 4 Dec 2020 to 06:00 on 5 Dec 2020. Corrections?  Convoys carried men, animals, and supplies to the European theatre of war. The Halifax Explosion was a disaster that occurred in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on the morning of 6 December 1917.  Coroner Arthur S. Barnstead took over from Coldwell as the morgue went into operation and implemented a system to carefully number and describe bodies; it was based on the system developed by his father, John Henry Barnstead, to identify Titanic victims in 1912. Canadian/Irish actor Vincent Walsh won a Gemini for best actor portraying Captain Charlie Collins.  The pilots agreed to pass starboard-to-starboard. , Imo was granted clearance to leave Bedford Basin by signals from the guard ship HMCS Acadia at approximately 7:30 on the morning of 6 December, with Pilot William Hayes on board. Dartmouth lies on the east shore of Halifax Harbour, and Halifax is on the west shore.
Ships from Allied and neutral countries, loaded with war supplies of food, munitions, and troops, arrived and departed from Halifax as part of convoys that crossed the Atlantic with armed warships as escorts. Halifax explosion of 1917, disaster in Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada, in which a munitions ship exploded, killing nearly 2,000 people.  Eventually the fear dissipated as the real cause of the explosion became known, although rumours of German involvement persisted. It was heard by other stations all along the Intercolonial Railway, helping railway officials to respond immediately.  The American steamship Old Colony, docked in Halifax for repairs, suffered little damage and was quickly converted to serve as a hospital ship, staffed by doctors and orderlies from the British and American navy vessels in the harbour.  Imo met American tramp steamer SS Clara being piloted up the wrong (western) side of the harbour. , Drysdale also oversaw the first civil litigation trial, in which the owners of the two ships sought damages from each other. , At 9:04:35 am the out-of-control fire on board Mont-Blanc set off her cargo of high explosives. Relief efforts began almost immediately, and hospitals quickly became full. , Large brick and stone factories near Pier 6, such as the Acadia Sugar Refinery, disappeared into unrecognizable heaps of rubble, killing most of their workers. , Relief efforts were hampered the following day by a blizzard that blanketed Halifax with 16 inches (41 cm) of heavy snow. The Halifax Explosion started when two ships collided in the harbor of the Nova Scotian capital of Halifax.  The ship arrived in Halifax on 3 December for neutral inspection and spent two days in Bedford Basin awaiting refuelling supplies.  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. , The population of Halifax/Dartmouth had increased to between 60,000 and 65,000 people by 1917. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica.
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