Texas City fertilizer explosion happened 66 years ago

Published On: Apr 18 2013 11:31:20 AM CDT   Updated On: Apr 18 2013 01:57:22 PM CDT

Texas is no stranger to fertilizer-caused explosions.

Exactly 66 years ago this week, what remains the nation's worst industrial disaster occurred just southeast of Houston when a series of explosions rocked the huge waterfront petrochemical complex at Texas City.

At least 576 people were killed and 5,000 injured.

It began with a fire aboard a French freighter carrying 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. The ship then exploded April 16, 1947, and it was followed by other blasts. A second ship, also filled with ammonium nitrate, eventually blew up as well.

An investigation determined the fire was started by someone smoking in the hold of the French ship.

The blast blew two small planes out of the sky and caused a 15-foot tidal wave. Some 178 victims never were found.


Photos: 1947 explosion in Texas City


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