Natural and Man-Made Disasters


Was the Titanicthe most disastrous shipwreck of all time?

Though it is certainly the most famous, it is not the most disastrous. According to shipping registries, three wrecks were worse than the Titanic. In April 1865 the side-wheel steamboat Sultana exploded on the Mississippi River, killing 1,653 of the estimated 2,300 people on board. The packet steamboat had routinely carried passengers and cargo between St. Louis and New Orleans. In 1917 the Mont Blanc exploded in the harbor at Halifax, Nova Scotia, claiming 1,635 lives and severely injuring more than 1,000. The ship, which was a French munitions carrier (World War I was raging at the time), was struck by a Norwegian relief ship, the Imo. The Mont Blanc was laden with thousands of tons of TNT, acid, and other explosives, which were ignited in the collision. The explosion was so terrific that it laid waste to much of Halifax and generated a tsunami that swept through the city. Most recently, in 1987, the Doña Paz collided with another ship off the Philippines; 1,840 died.

The German dirigible Hindenburg crashes to earth after exploding over the U.S. Naval Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 1937.

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