Texas City Disaster Categories: 04-April, Infrastructure Timelines: Man-Made Disasters

(Credit: Alfred S. Gerson/wiki user)The Wilson B. Keene. The large piece of shrapnel in the foreground is probably a piece of the Grandcamp.


April 16, 1947:

Docked in Texas City, TX, the S.S. Grandcamp, loaded with a cargo 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, suddenly and mysteriously caught fire. After failed attempts to extinguish the flames, the cargo exploded, launching the cargo 2,000-3,000 feet in the air and causing a 15-foot tidal wave.  The shock could be felt as far as 250 miles away. The S.S. High Flyer, also loaded with ammonium nitrate, ignited and also exploded 16 hours later.—NOAA

Impact:

  • Nearly 600 confirmed fatalities
  • Thousands injured
  • Town decimated

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