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At 845 AM 6 Dec 1917 at the height of WWI the Belgian Relief vessel Imo through human error and negligence collided with the French munitions carrier Mont Blanc in the narrowest part of Halifax harbor Sparks generated by the collision ignited benzol stored on Mont Blanc s deck the burning liquid then seeped into the holds where it lit 2766 t of picric acid TNT and guncotton At 906 the munitions ship blew a mile high in the worlds greatest man-made explosion before Hiroshima Over 25 km of Halifaxs industrial North end was totally leveled either by the blast the tidal wave or the raging fire caused when structures collapsed inward on roaring stoves and furnaces Homes offices churches factories vessels the railway station and freight yards - all were destroyed The blast shattered windows in Truro 100 km away and was heard in Prince Edward Island Out of a population of less than 50000 over 1600 people died and 9000 were injured including 200 blinded by flying glass Sixteen hundred buildings were destroyed and 12000 damaged 6000 people were homeless and 20000 lacked proper shelter Total damage amounted to 35 million The misery was compounded by a forced evacuation of the city necessitated by fire threatening the main dockyard magazine and by appalling weather conditions in the days immediately following the explosion Relief assistance was immediate and extensive Trains from throughout the Maritimes and from central Canada and New England brought medical aid food clothing building materials and skilled laborers The continuing assistance provided by the Massachusetts Relief Committee was particularly noteworthy Money donated by government industry and individuals worldwide eventually totaled some 30 million and was administered 1918-76 by the Halifax Relief Commission
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