Searching for Victims of Disaster, Texas City, Texas Disaster, April 16, 1947
Photo shows volunteers searching the gulf waters for bodies after the disaster.
The deadliest industrial accident in US history.
The SS Grandcamp, a French ship carrying 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate, caught fire while it was docked in the port at Texas City. 30 firemen were on the docks fighting the fire, when the ship exploded. The explosion caused a chain reaction. Nearby ships exploded. Fires and explosions ripped through nearby oil storage facilities and chemical plants. The Texas City area was devastated. 581 people were killed including all but one member of the Texas City Fire Department and three members of the Texas City Heights Volunteer Fire Department. A new hospital, set to open in a few weeks, was opened to care for the more than 5,000 injured, 1,784 of them were hospitalized between 21 area hospitals. More that 500 homes were destroyed. Many businesses were destroyed. Over 1,100 vehicles were damaged.
Firefighters initially came from 60 miles away, and eventually, as far away as Los Angeles. The ruins were still burning a week after the disaster, and the process of body recovery took nearly a month.