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The Texas City Chain Reaction Explosions

Refineries and oil storage tanks of the Monsanto chemical plant burn in the waterfront area in Texas City, Texas, on April 16, 1947. The disaster, caused by the explosion of the nitrate-laden French ship Grandcamp, caused 561 deaths. (AP Photo)Refineries and oil storage tanks of the Monsanto chemical plant burn in the waterfront area in Texas City, Texas, on April 16, 1947. The disaster, caused by the explosion of the nitrate-laden French ship Grandcamp, caused 561 deaths. (AP Photo)

Location: Port of Texas City, TX
Date: April 16, 1947
Disaster type: Industrial explosion
Casualties: 567 dead, 1,000 injured

On the morning of April 16, 1947, a French-owned cargo ship called the SS Grandcamp, carrying several tons of explosive petroleum nitrate, caught fire and exploded. In the immediate path of the explosion were the dock area, the Monsanto Chemical Company, grain warehouses, several oil and gas chemical storage tanks and other small companies and buildings. Debris flew throughout the city, igniting additional homes and businesses and causing other small explosions. The blast also caused a 15-foot tidal wave, which swept the dock area.

Another nearby ship, the SS High Flyer, was ignited by the explosion. It was towed 100 feet from the dock before it exploded 16 hours later.

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