The Texas City disaster was an industrial accident that occurred April 16, 1947, in the Port of Texas City, Texas, at Galveston Bay. It was the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history, and one of history’s largest non-nuclear explosions.
A mid-morning fire started on board the French-registered vessel SS Grandcamp (docked in the port), and detonated her cargo of approximately 2,200 tons (approximately 2,100 metric tons) of ammonium nitrate. This started a chain reaction of additional fires and explosions in other ships and nearby oil-storage facilities. The events killed a total of at least 581 people, including all but one member of the Texas City fire department.
The disaster triggered the first-ever class action lawsuit against the United States government, under the recently enacted Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), on behalf of 8,485 victims.
Image Credit: Carl E Linde / AP