Everyone likes things that go boom. If we didn’t, summer blockbusters wouldn’t be as popular as they currently are. Throughout history, there have been some amazing explosions that men have orchestrated. So, for this article we will go through the largest manmade explosions man has ever created without using nuclear weapons. So, let’s begin by delving a few centuries into the past.
Before World War I, most large man-made explosions were the results of cannonballs accidently hitting somewhere loaded with gunpowder.
1654: On October 12, roughly 40 tonnes of gunpowder exploded in the city of Delft, located in the Netherlands. The explosion destroyed most of the city and killed over one hundred people while wounding thousands.
1810: On August 26, a shell was shot into an old castle during the Siege of Almeida in the Peninsula War in Portugal, igniting 4,000 prepared charges, which then caused 150,000 pounds of black powder and 1,000,000 musket cartridges to ignite. The explosion killed over 600 soldiers, wounded 300 and destroyed most of the castle.
1848: During the Siege of Multan in the Second Anglo-Sikh War on December 30, a mortar shell hit a mosque in the city that was loaded with 400,000 pounds of gunpowder. Not surprisingly, the explosion that erupted was like nothing humanity had ever seen. The ground shook for many miles and the air became dark with smoke.
1885: Not all man-made explosions happened during war or were by accident. On October 10, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers detonated 300,000 pounds of explosives on Flood Rock near New York City. This was done to clear the Hell Gate in order to help shipping traffic on the East River. The explosion sent water shooting up 250 feet in the air and the blast was felt in Princeton, New Jersey. This is considered to be the largest planned man-made explosion before the atomic bomb.
With the start of World War I, many huge man-made explosions were planned detonations occurring on the Western Front. However, there were still some accidental detonations that would occur, altering lives and cities forever.
1916: On July 1, at the start of the Battle of the Somme, a charge of 60,000 pounds of explosives was detonated in the morning, creating the loudest man-made sound in human history. The explosion, which occurred in France, could be heard in London and it created a crater that was 300 feet across and 90 feet deep.
1917: On January 19, much of East London in the Silverton Area was destroyed when a massive explosion of dynamite at a munitions factory ignited and exploded. Hundreds were injured and 73 died in the explosion, which was felt across London and heard over 100 miles away. Fires from the explosion were also visible for 30 miles in all directions.
1917: On June 7, another massive explosion rocked France, roughly one year after the explosion at the Battle of the Somme. On this day, 29 huge mines containing 1,000,000 pounds of explosives detonated under the German lines. About 10,000 Germans were killed, and the explosion was heard not just in London, but as far away as Dublin as well.
1917: It was on December 6 when the largest man-made explosion before the atomic bomb occurred. On this day, in the harbour of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the SS Mont-Blanc, which was carrying 2,653 tonnes of explosives, collided with the SS Imo. A fire started on the SS Mon-Blanc and it was abandoned, which allowed the ship to burn and drift closer into the harbour. After several minutes, the Mont-Blanc exploded, creating what many consider the first mushroom cloud ever seen by humans. Every building within two kilometres was completely destroyed, as were buildings in communities kilometres away from Halifax. The explosion created a pressure wave the sent a tidal wave into the harbour, as well as a pressure wave that snapped trees, bent train rails, destroyed buildings and carried pieces of the Mont-Blanc several kilometres away. The force of the explosion is believed to be about the equivalent of 2,900 tonnes of TNT. Over 2,000 people were killed in this explosion and thousands more were several injured, including by flying glass that blinded hundreds.
1921: On September 21, roughly 4,500 tonnes of fertilizer in a silo exploded, destroying Oppau, Germany and killing 560 people. The explosion was so powerful that damage occurred on homes as much as 30 kilometres away.
World War II and the following years saw many immense explosions. Some of the biggest non-nuclear explosions included the following.
1944: On November 10, the USS Mount Hood exploded with 3,800 tonnes of explosives on board, creating a 7,000 feet high mushroom cloud that obscured the surrounding area in a radius of about 500 yards. The largest piece of the ship found after the explosion was only 16 by 10 feet, and it was in a trench below where the ship was before it exploded. Nearly 300 soldiers were killed on the ship, and another 23 soldiers on the USS Mindanao were hurt 350 yards away.
1947: On April 18, British engineers destroyed an entire island with 4,100 tonnes of World War II ammunition placed around the island. The island was forever altered and the energy released by the explosion was equal to 3.2 kilotons.
1969: On July 3, the Soviet Union attempted to launch their N1 rocket. However, a loose bolt went into the fuel pump and caused the explosion of 2,400 tons of liquid oxygen and kerosene. The explosion measured 25 tetra joules of energy, making it the largest artificial non-nuclear explosion in human history.
1988: On May 4, 3,860 tons of ammonium perchlorate ignited to cause a series of explosions in Nevada. While only two people were killed, the explosion was equal to a one kiloton nuclear air burst.
2005: On December 11 in Hertfordshire, England, 270,000,000 litres of fuel exploded causing an explosion that was heard 100 miles away, including in the Netherlands and France. The flames could be seen for miles and the smoke cloud loomed over the nearby towns. Thankfully, there were no deaths.
Okay, so we said there would be no nuclear explosions in this list but what would an explosion list be without the single largest explosion man has ever created; The Tsar Bomb. Created by the Soviet Union, the Tsar Bomb was a 57 megaton bomb that was detonated on October 30, 1961 over Mityushikha Bay north of the Arctic Circle. The explosion was so large that even though the bomb was denoted four kilometres above the ground, the fire ball not only reached the ground, but nearly got as high as the release plane, which was 10 kilometres above the ground. The heat from the explosion could be felt 620 miles away, with people suffering burns 62 miles away, and the mushroom cloud eventually reached a height of 40 miles, or seven times as high as Mount Everest. The explosion itself could be seen in Finland, and windows were broken by the force of the explosion in Sweden. The seismic shock of the explosion went around the earth three times and measured about 7.1 on the Richter Scale with the initial explosion.
Author: Craig Baird — Copyrighted © roadtickle.com