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The Cali Explosion occurred on August 7, 1956 in downtown Cali, Colombia. It was caused by the explosion of seven army ammunition trucks loaded with 1053 boxes of dynamite, which were parked in Cali overnight. In 1956, the city of Cali had just 120,000 inhabitants. 1,300 died from the explosion, and another 4,000 were wounded.[1]

Cali explosion
Native name Explosión de Cali
DateAugust 7, 1956 (1956-08-07)
LocationCali, Colombia


Seven army trucks, loaded with 1053 boxes of dynamite, came from Buenaventura and were parked in an old railway station. The explosion occurred in the early hours of the morning - destroying 41 blocks and leaving a crater 50 meters wide and 25 meters deep. The blast destroyed buildings, homes and businesses, killing more than 1,300 people and injuring more than 4,000. Six districts were affected: San Nicolás, El Porvenir, El Hoyo, Piloto, Fátima and Jorge Isaacs.[2]

The blast caused an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.3. The noise was heard in Buga, Palmira, Santander de Quilichao, Caloto and Jamundí. Hypotheses for the explosion include trucks overheating or a soldier accidentally firing his gun.

This incident occurred while Gustavo Rojas Pinilla was president. He attributed the tragedy to the opposition, who had recently signed the Benidorm covenant.


In the early hours following the explosion, priest Alfonso Hurtado Galvis intervened. He said of the incident: "the mushroom cloud left by the explosion resembled that formed by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but smaller in proportion ... mutilated body parts including legs, arms, torsos could be seen. The scene was horrific.. dead and wounded everywhere."

In the central cemetery 3725 skulls and body parts were buried in a mass grave. An iron cross near streets 25 and 26 was erected to commemorate the incident.

Following the tragedy, local Colombian organizations such as the Red Cross, the Sendas organization (Department of Social Welfare and Child Protection, later the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare [es], ICBF), the Boy Scouts and the Sisters of Charity and clergy offered help. The Holy See, then headed by Pope Pius XII, the Soviet Union, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Japan, China and the European continent sympathised with the victims.

Popular cultureEdit

  • Bloody Flesh (Spanish: Carne de tu carne, "Flesh of Your Flesh") is a 1983 Colombian drama horror film written and directed by Carlos Mayolo based on the explosion.


  1. ^ "LA EXPLOSIÓN DE CALI: AGOSTO 7 DE 1956". Revista Credencial (in Spanish). 2016-09-16. Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  2. ^ República, Subgerencia Cultural del Banco de la. "La Red Cultural del Banco de la República". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2019-03-21.

Coordinates: 3°27′35″N 76°31′14″W / 3.459791°N 76.520605°W / 3.459791; -76.520605