Texas City explosion, 1947: Shocking pictures and video of the accident

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Another photo of Texas City explosion, 1947The Texas City explosion shocked the world 73 years before the cataclysm in Beirut. Both accidents are actually very similar.

Read more: 100 most important pictures in history

The chronology of the Texas City explosion

It all began with the cargo ship Grandcamp, which was loading in the port of Texas City. The port workers were loading the ship with the usual goods – ammonium nitrate, a total weight of 2,300 tons for five days. (For comparison: Beirut exploded almost the same amount in 2020, 2,750 tons, but Texas had something extra)

Even the experienced crew leaders of the Texas port were not aware that ammonium nitrate is far from a safe substance. Hence the trivial negligence, which led to dire consequences.

Read more: 10 most expensive photographs in history

Workers discovered the fire on April 16, 1947, at 8 am. The incident attracted more than half of the city’s firefighters, as well as reporters. Nobody felt much of a danger. Even worse, the captain at first did not attempt to handle fire with water. He didn’t want to spoil the valuable cargo. This decision killed them all.

Texas City explosion, 1947

Texas City explosion, 1947

The aftermath of the explosion

At 9 hours and 12 minutes – the exact time of the

Texas City explosion. Eyewitnesses say that the “Grandcamp” and everyone who was nearby was blown away. The shock wave demolished buildings, cars, oil rigs, and ships on its way. 

There was no hope to undertake anything at this moment. Hell broke loose. And that was just the beginning. Immediately, numerous oil refineries burst into flames, covering the city with black smoke and flames. Almost the entire city burned fetidly until late at night. And when everything seemed to calm down, two more ships, the Highflyer and the Wilson Keene exploded. There was sulfur on board and the same ammonium nitrate. It took three days to fight countless deadly fires.

The skies were covered with black smoke

The skies were covered with black smoke.

Who’s guilty?

The cause of the Texas City explosion was quite trivial. It turned out that the blatant illiteracy of the personnel and management led to the fact that the workers smoked while loading ammonium nitrate. Finally, the dangerous explosives were packed in banal paper bags instead of fireproof boxes.

The thrown cigarette butt sent 1,500 people to heaven. More than a third of those died during the first Texas City explosion. The city was destroyed, as well as the port. America never saw such a disaster. Texas City looked like Hiroshima after the atomic explosion.

There is also a newsreel of a Texas City explosion.

Read more: All Pulitzer Prize photos (1942-1967)

Texas City explosion almost levelled the entire city

The explosion almost leveled the entire city

No one paid serious attention to the fire first. The exlosion was a surprise!

No one paid serious attention to the fire first. The explosion was a surprise!

Firefighters spent several days eliminating the consequences

Firefighters spent several days eliminating the consequences.

Explosion caused the fire on the oil plants

The explosion caused the fire on the oil plants

Cars demolished by the Texas City explosion, 1947

Cars demolished by the Texas explosion, 1947

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