Friday, September 28, 2007

Bombay Explosion (1944)
The Bombay Explosion (or Bombay Docks Explosion) occurred on April 14, 1944, in the Victoria Dock of Bombay (now Mumbai) when SS Fort Stikine carrying a mixed cargo of cotton bales, gold, ammunition including around 1,400 tons of explosive caught fire and was destroyed in two giant blasts, scattering debris, sinking surrounding ships and killing around 800 people.

Bombay Explosion (1944) The incident

It took three days to bring the fire under control, and later 8,000 men toiled for seven months to remove around 500,000 tons of debris and bring the docks back into action.
The official death toll was 740, including 476 military personnel, with around 1,800 people injured; unofficial tallies run much higher.
In total, twenty-seven other vessels were sunk or damaged in both Victoria dock and the neighbouring Prince's Dock.
Many families lost all their belongings and were left with just the clothes on their back.
The government took full responsibility for the disaster and monetary compensation was paid to citizens who made a claim for loss or damage to property.
During normal dredging operations carried out periodically to maintain the depth of the docking bays one or two gold bars were found intact sporadically as late as the 1970s and returned to the British government.
Once in every few years, gold bricks are recovered from Mumbai harbour, reminding everyone of the great tragedy, even after six decades of the incident.
Mumbai Fire Brigade's headquarters at Byculla has a memorial built in the memory of numerous fire fighters who died during this explosion.

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