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The Explosion

At 9:04:35 Mont-Blanc exploded with a force stronger than any manmade explosion before it.

The steel hull burst sky-high, falling in a blizzard of red-hot, twisted projectiles on Dartmouth and Halifax.

Some pieces were tiny; others were huge. Part of the anchor hit the ground more than 4 kilometers away on the far side of Northwest Arm. A gun barrel landed in Dartmouth more than 5 kilometers from the harbour.

After the Blast

The explosion sent a white cloud billowing 20,000 feet above the city.

For almost two square kilometers around Pier 6, nothing was left standing. The blast obliterated most of Richmond: homes, apartments and business, even the towering sugar refinery.

On the Dartmouth side, Tuft's Cove took the brunt of the blast. The small Mi'kmaq settlement of Turtle Grove was obliterated.

More than 1500 people were killed outright; hundreds more would die in the hours and days to come. Nine thousand people, many of whom might have been safe if they hadn't come to watch the fire, were injured by the blast, falling buildings and flying shards of glass.

And it wasn't over yet.

Within minutes the dazed survivors were awash in water. The blast provoked a tsunami [?] that washed up as high as 18 meters above the harbour's high-water mark on the Halifax side.

People blown off their feet by the explosion now hung on for their lives as water rushed over the shoreline, through the dockyard and beyond Campbell Road (now Barrington Street).

The tsunami lifted Imo onto the Dartmouth shore. The ship stayed there until spring. City in Shock>

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Interactive Features
Collision Timeline, interactive feature The Ships, interactive feature Historical Docu-Comic, Tribute to the Halifax Fire Department
Flash and QuickTime players required

Continue to Media Gallery Continue to Image Gallery
View Halifax map in 1917 ARC
Media Archive & Librarian's Corner
Exciting moving image material has been found at the Library and Archives of Canada.

View Halifax map in 1917 Vince Coleman
Vince Coleman
The train dispatcher who became an explosion legend.

  TheConstant Upham Constant Upham
The Richmond storekeeper who alerted several fire halls about a ship burning in the harbour.
Black silhouette of a woman Did You Know

Long distance tidal wave: There are stories of ships miles away from the explosion being lifted on a great "tidal wave." They are not true. But several ships well outside Halifax heard the explosion, saw the plume of smoke on the horizon, and headed for the city to offer help.

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