Dec 6th, 1917, fate was to intervene in a huge way for not only the crew of the ships, the Mont Blanc, and the IMO, but also for many other innocent people in Halifax Harbor in Nova Scotia Canada. The IMO was a relief ship and was a neutral ship headed to New York to load relief supplies for Belgium. The SS Mont Blank had come from New York and had been loaded with vast explosives and volatile material. Many different volatile materials had been mixed together. The Mont Blanc was carrying 200 tons of TNT, 10 tons of gun cotton, with drums of High Octane fuel, and 2,300 tons of picric acid.
“The Narrows” was a bottleneck in the harbor and on the morning of Dec 6th, the IMO and the SS Mont Blanc collided. Some of the Fuel barrels carrying Benzyl broke loose, spilling onto the deck of the Mont Blanc. The captain called for “abandon ship.” The ship drifted towards Halifax and blew up at around 9:05 A.M. The extraordinary blast leveled an area of about 2 square kilometers and flattened an area of about 325 acres. The blast itself killed 1600 people. Next, the pressure wave from the explosion rocked ships along the shore line and sank many of them. An entire encampment of Native Americans in a Micmac settlement was washed away in the huge wave.
Many of the people who came to view the fire sustained injury as well as glass was thrown from the ships. Next came the fires. Rumors had spread that there was going to be another explosion which hindered relief efforts as people scrambled to escape. As rescuers moved back into the area, the worst blizzard in years hit. This heightened the death toll even more. The day was recorded in history as one of the worse tragedies ever.