3. Texas City Disaster
The Texas City Disaster is one of the worst man-made disasters. A French vessel, SS Grandcamp, transporting a large amount of ammonium nitrate and some small arms ammunition docked at the Port of Texas City. Just 600 feet away, the High Flyer, is also docked in the same harbor with more than 3.5 million pounds of sulfur and 960 tons of ammonium nitrate.
Around 8AM, on April 16, 1947, the water around the SS Grandcamp seemed to boil and smoke came out from its cargo hold. A little more than one hour later, the entire ship literally “erupted”, killing everyone onboard. The shockwave leveled over one thousand buildings and felt by some people more than 200 miles away. Fifteen hours later, High Flyer, exploded adding more carnage to the already destroyed landscape.
The Texas City Disaster is still named as the worst accident in American industrial history. 468 bodies were recovered and 63 of them were unidentifiable. For no recognizable body parts were ever found, 113 people are still considered missing; these include the crews of SS Grandcamp and all Texas City firemen. In today’s terms, the property damage is estimated at more than $1 billion.