HalifaxReaders of this blog may remember that in my forthcoming saga I intend to encompass the 30 July 1916 Black Tom explosion in New York, the greatest incident of material damage to the city before 9/11. A reader’s letter in the London Review of Books has led me to another such wartime explosion, the 6 December 1917 Halifax Explosion, when a French munitions ship, the Mont-Blanc, drifting and on fire after a collision, exploded, killing about 2,000 people and injuring a further 9,000. The Wiki entry recounts that ‘Nearly all structures within a half-mile radius, including the entire community of Richmond, were completely obliterated. A pressure wave of air snapped trees, bent iron rails, demolished buildings, grounded vessels, and carried fragments of the Mont-Blanc for kilometres. Hardly a window in the city proper survived the concussion. Across the harbour, in Dartmouth, there was also widespread damage. A tsunami created by the blast wiped out the physical community of Mi’kmaw First Nations people that had lived in the Tuft’s Cove area for generations. There were a number of casualties including five children who drowned when the tidal wave came ashore at Nevin’s Cove.’ So many people were blinded by flying glass that the reconstructed Halifax became internationally known as a centre for the care of the blind. Wiki further records that ‘For many years afterward, the Halifax Explosion was the standard by which all large blasts were measured. For instance, in its report on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Time wrote that the explosive power of the Little Boy bomb was seven times that of the Halifax Explosion.’