Largest artificial non-nuclear explosions
There have been many extremely large explosions, accidental and intentional, caused by modern high explosives, boiling liquid expanding vapour explosions (BLEVEs), older explosives such as gunpowder, volatile petroleum-based fuels such as petrol, and other chemical reactions. This list contains the largest known examples, sorted by date. An unambiguous ranking in order of severity is not possible; a 1994 study by historian Jay White of 130 large explosions suggested that they need to be ranked by an overall effect of power, quantity, radius, loss of life and property destruction, but concluded that such rankings are difficult to assess.
The weight of an explosive does not directly correlate with the energy or destructive impact of an explosion, as these can depend upon many other factors such as containment, proximity, purity, preheating, and external oxygenation (in the case of thermobaric weapons, gas leaks and BLEVEs).
In this article, explosion means "the sudden conversion of potential energy (chemical or mechanical) into kinetic energy", as defined by the US National Fire Protection Association, or the common dictionary meaning, "a violent and destructive shattering or blowing apart of something". No distinction is made as to whether it is a deflagration with subsonic propagation or a detonation with supersonic propagation.
Before World War IEdit
Fall of AntwerpEdit
On 4 April 1585, during the Spanish siege of Antwerp, a fortified bridge named "Puente Farnesio"[a] had been built by the Spanish on the River Scheldt. The Dutch launched four large hellburners (explosive fire ships filled with gunpowder and rocks) to destroy the bridge and thereby isolate the city from reinforcement. Three of the hellburners failed to reach the target, but one containing 4 tons of explosive struck the bridge. It did not explode immediately, which gave time for some curious Spaniards to board it. There was then a devastating blast that killed 800 Spaniards on the bridge, throwing bodies, rocks and pieces of metal a distance of several kilometres. A small tsunami arose in the river, the ground shook for kilometres around and a large, dark cloud covered the area. The blast was felt as far as 35 kilometres (22 mi) away in Ghent, where windows vibrated.
Around nine in the morning of 30 May 1626, an explosion at the Wanggongchang Armory in Ming-era Beijing, China, destroyed almost everything within an area of two square kilometres (0.77 sq mi) surrounding the site. The estimated death toll was 20,000. About half of Beijing, from Xuanwumen Gate in the South to today's West Chang'an Boulevard in the North, was affected. Guard units stationed as far away as Tongzhou, nearly 40 kilometres (25 mi) away, reported hearing the blast and feeling the earth tremble.
Great Torrington, DevonEdit
On 16 February 1646, 80 barrels (5.72 tons) of gunpowder were accidentally ignited by a stray spark during the Battle of Torrington in the English Civil War, destroying the church in which the magazine was located and killing several Royalist guards and a large number of Parliamentarian prisoners who were being held there. The explosion effectively ended the battle, bringing victory to the Parliamentarians. It narrowly missed killing the Parliamentarian commander, Sir Thomas Fairfax. Great damage was caused.
About 40 tonnes of gunpowder exploded on 12 October 1654, destroying much of the city of Delft in the Netherlands. Over a hundred people were killed and thousands were injured.
Destruction of the ParthenonEdit
On 26 September 1687, the Parthenon, hitherto intact, was partially destroyed when an Ottoman ammunition bunker inside was struck by a Venetian mortar. 300 Turkish soldiers were killed in the explosion.
In 1769, the Bastion of San Nazaro in Brescia, Italy was struck by lightning. The resulting fire ignited 90 tonnes of gunpowder being stored, and the subsequent explosion destroyed one-sixth of the city and killed 3,000 people.
Leiden gunpowder disasterEdit
On 12 January 1807, a ship carrying hundreds of barrels of black powder exploded in the town of Leiden in the Netherlands. The disaster killed 151 people and destroyed over 200 buildings in the town.
Siege of AlmeidaEdit
On 26 August 1810, in Almeida, Portugal, during the Peninsular War phase of the Napoleonic Wars, French forces commanded by Marshal André Masséna laid siege to the garrison; the garrison was commanded by British Brigadier General William Cox. A shell made a chance hit on the medieval castle, within the star fortress, which was being used as the powder magazine. It ignited 4,000 prepared charges, which in turn ignited 68,000 kilograms (68 t) of black powder and 1,000,000 musket cartridges. The ensuing explosions killed 600 defenders and wounded 300. The medieval castle was razed to the ground and sections of the defences were damaged. Unable to reply to the French cannonade without gunpowder, Cox was forced to capitulate the following day with the survivors of the blast and 100 cannon. The French losses during the operation were 58 killed and 320 wounded.
Fort York magazine explosionEdit
On 27 April 1813, the magazine of Fort York in York, Ontario (now Toronto) was fired by retreating British troops during an American invasion. Thirty thousand pounds (14,000 kg) of gunpowder and thirty thousand cartridges exploded sending debris, cannon and musket balls over the American troops. Thirty-eight soldiers, including General Zebulon Pike, the American commander, were killed and 222 were wounded.
Battle of Negro FortEdit
On 27 July 1816, a fort built in the War of 1812 by the British at Prospect Bluff in Spanish West Florida, and occupied by about 330 maroons, Seminole, and Choctaw, was attacked by Andrew Jackson's navy as part of the First Seminole War. There was an exchange of cannon fire; the first red-hot cannonball fired by the navy entered the fort's powder magazine, which exploded. The explosion, heard more than 100 miles (160 km) away, destroyed the entire post which was initially supplied with "three thousand stand of arms, from five to six hundred barrels of powders and a great quantity of fixed ammunition, shot[s], shells". About 270 men, women and children lay dead. General Edmund P. Gaines later said that the "explosion was awful and the scene horrible beyond description." Reports mention no American military casualties.
Siege of MultanEdit
Great fire of Newcastle and GatesheadEdit
The 6 October 1854 great fire of Newcastle and Gateshead, UK, was occasioned by an explosion of a bond warehouse on the quayside, which rained masonry and flaming timbers across wide areas of both cities, and left a crater with a depth of 40 feet (12 m) and 50 feet (15 m) in diameter. The explosion was heard at locations up to 40 miles (64 km) away. 53 people died, and 400 to 500 were injured.
Agios Ioannis Church ExplosionEdit
On 6 November 1856 lightning struck 3,000 to 6,000 hundredweight (roughly 150-300 tonnes) of gunpowder stored by the Ottomans in the bell tower of the Agios Ioannis church near the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes in Rhodes, triggering a blast that destroyed large parts of the city and killed 4,000 people.
The Battle of the Crater during the Siege of Petersburg, VirginiaEdit
During the American Civil War at 4:44 a.m. on July 30, 1864 the Union Army of the Potomac besieging the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg, Virginia detonated a mine containing 320 kegs of gunpowder, totaling 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg) under the confederate entrenchments. The explosion killed 278 Confederate soldiers of the 18th and 22nd South Carolina regiments  and created a crater 170 feet (52 m) long, 100 to 120 feet (30 to 37 m) wide, and at least 30 feet (9 m) deep. After the explosion, attacking Union forces charged into the crater instead of around its lip. Trapped in the crater of their own making; the Union forces were easy targets for the Confederate soldiers once they recovered from the shock of the explosion. Union forces suffered 3798 casualties (killed, wounded, or captured) vs 1491 total losses for the Confederates. The Union forces failed to break through the Confederate defenses despite the success of the mine. The Battle of the Crater (as it came to be called) was thus a victory for the Confederacy. However, the siege continued.
Fort Fisher Magazine explosionEdit
In 1865 after the Capture of Fort Fisher, North Carolina the accidental explosion of the Fort Magazine resulted in an estimated 200 persons killed.
Mobile magazine explosionEdit
On 25 May 1865, in Mobile, Alabama, in the United States, an ordnance depot (magazine) exploded, killing 300 people. This event occurred just six weeks after the end of the American Civil War, during the occupation of the city by victorious Federal troops.
Flood Rock explosionEdit
On 10 October 1885 in New York City, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers detonated 300,000 pounds (150 t) of explosives on Flood Rock, annihilating the island, in order to clear the Hell Gate for the benefit of East River shipping traffic. The explosion sent a geyser of water 250 feet in the air; the blast was felt as far away as Princeton, New Jersey. The explosion has been described as "the largest planned explosion before testing began for the atomic bomb". Rubble from the detonation was used in 1890 to fill the gap between Great Mill Rock and Little Mill Rock, merging the two into a single island, Mill Rock.
Explosion of steamship Cabo MachichacoEdit
On 3 November 1893, in Santander, Spain, the steamship Cabo Machichaco caught fire when she was docked. The ship was loaded with sulfuric acid and 51 tons of dynamite from Galdácano, Basque Country, but authorities were unaware of this. Firefighters and crewmen from other ships boarded Cabo Machichaco to help fight the fire, while local dignitaries and a large crowd of people watched from the shore. At 5 pm, a huge explosion destroyed nearby buildings and created a huge wave that washed over the seafront. Pieces of iron and rubbish were thrown as far as Peñacastillo, 8 km (5 mi) away, where a person was killed by the falling debris. 590 people were killed, and between 500 and 2,000 were injured.
On 19 February 1896, an explosives train at Braamfontein station in Johannesburg, loaded with between 56 and 60 tons of blasting gelatine for the gold mines of the Witwatersrand and having been standing for three and a half days in searing heat, was struck by a shunting train. The load exploded, leaving a crater in the Braamfontein rail yard 60 metres (200 ft) long, 50 metres (160 ft) wide and 8 metres (26 ft) deep. The explosion was heard up to 200 kilometres (120 mi) away. 75 people were killed, and more than 200 injured. Surrounding suburbs were destroyed, and roughly 3,000 people lost their homes. Almost every window in Johannesburg was broken.
On 15 February 1898, more than 5 tons of gunpowder exploded on the USS Maine in the Havana Harbor, killing 266 on board. Spanish investigations found that it was likely started by spontaneous combustion of the adjacent coal bunker or accidental ignition of volatile gases. The 1898 US Navy investigation laid the blame on a mine, which led to public outrage in the United States and support for the Spanish-American War.
DuPont Powder Mill explosion, Fontanet, IndianaEdit
On 15 October 1907, approximately 40,000 kegs of powder exploded in Fontanet, Indiana, killing between 50 and 80 people, and destroying the town. The sound of the explosion was heard over 200 miles (320 km) away, with damage occurring to buildings 25 miles (40 km) away.
DuPont Powder Mill Explosion, Pleasant Prairie, WisconsinEdit
On 9 March 1911, the village of Pleasant Prairie and neighboring town of Bristol, 4 miles away, were leveled by the explosion of five magazines holding 300 tons of dynamite, 105,000 kegs of black blasting powder, and five railroad cars filled with dynamite housed at a 190-acre DuPont blasting powder plant. A crater 100 ft deep was left where the plant stood. Several hundred people were injured. The plant was closed at the time, so deaths were light, with only three plant employees being killed, E. S. "Old Man" Thompson, Clarence Brady and Joseph Flynt, and Elgin, Illinois resident Alice Finch, who died of shock. Most buildings in a 5-mile radius were rendered flat or uninhabitable. The explosion was widely felt within a radius of 130 miles, and largely thought to be an earthquake. Residents in nearby Lake County, Illinois saw the fireball and remembering the Peshtigo fire fled their houses, jumping into Lake Michigan. Police in Chicago scoured the streets, looking for the site of a bombing. Windows were shattered as far away as Madison, Wisconsin, a distance of some 85 miles. The explosion was reportedly heard up to 500 miles away. A DuPont spokesman was reported on as being perplexed by the coverage of the blast, quoted as saying "explosions occur every day in steel mills, flouring mills and grain elevators with hardly a line in the paper."
Alum Chine explosionEdit
Alum Chine was a Welsh freighter (out of Cardiff) carrying 343 tons of dynamite for use during construction of the Panama Canal. She was anchored off Hawkins Point, near the entrance to Baltimore Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland. She exploded on 7 March 1913, killing over 30, injuring about 60, and destroying a tugboat and two barges. Most accounts describe two distinct explosions.
World War IEdit
HMS Princess Irene at SheernessEdit
On 27 May 1915, the converted minelayer HMS Princess Irene suffered a blast. Wreckage was thrown up to 20 miles (30 km), a collier ship one-half mile (800 m) away had its crane blown off and a crew member killed by a fragment weighing 70 pounds (30 kg). A child ashore was killed by another fragment. A case of butter was found six miles (10 km) away. A total of 352 people were killed but one crew member survived, with severe burns. The ship had been loaded with 300 naval mines containing more than 150 tons of high explosive. An inquiry blamed faulty priming, possibly by untrained personnel.
On 2 April 1916, an explosion ripped through the gunpowder mill at Uplees, near Faversham, Kent, when 200 tons of TNT ignited. 105 people died in the explosion. The munitions factory was next to the Thames estuary, and the explosion was heard across the estuary as far away as Norwich, Great Yarmouth, and Southend-on-Sea, where domestic windows were blown out and two large plate-glass shop windows shattered.
Battle of JutlandEdit
On 31 May 1916, three British battlecruisers were destroyed by cordite deflagrations initiated by armour-piercing shells fired by the German High Seas Fleet. At 16:02 HMS Indefatigable was cut in two by deflagration of the forward magazine and sank immediately with all but two of her crew of 1,019. German eyewitness reports and the testimony of modern divers suggest all her magazines exploded. The wreck is now a debris field. At 16:25 HMS Queen Mary was cut in two by detonation of the forward magazine and sank with all but 21 of her crew of 1,283. As the rear section capsized it also exploded. At 18:30 HMS Invincible was cut in two by detonation of the midships magazine and sank in 90 seconds with all but six of her crew. 1,026 men died, including Rear Admiral Hood. An armoured cruiser, HMS Defence, was a fourth ship to suffer an explosive deflagration at Jutland with at least 893 men killed. The rear magazine was seen to detonate followed by more explosions as the cordite flash travelled along an ammunition passage beneath her broadside guns. Eyewitness reports suggest that HMS Black Prince may also have suffered an explosion as she was lost during the night action with all hands — 857 men. British reports say she was seen to blow up. German reports speak of the ship being overwhelmed at close range and sinking. Finally, during the confused night actions in the early hours of 1 June, the German pre-dreadnought SMS Pommern was hit by one, or possibly two, torpedoes from the British destroyer HMS Onslaught, which detonated one of Pommern's 17-centimetre (6.7 in) gun magazines. The resulting explosion broke the ship in half and killed the entire crew of 839 men.
Mines on the first day of the SommeEdit
On the morning of 1 July 1916, a series of 19 mines of varying sizes was blown to start the Battle of the Somme. The explosions constituted what was then the loudest human-made sound in history, and could be heard in London. The largest single charge was the Lochnagar mine south of La Boisselle with 60,000 lb (27 t) of ammonal explosive. The mine created a crater 300 ft (90 m) across and 90 ft (30 m) deep, with a lip 15 ft (5 m) high. The crater is known as Lochnagar Crater after the trench from where the main tunnel was started.
Black Tom explosionEdit
On 30 July 1916, sabotage by German agents caused 1,000 short tons (910 t) of explosives bound for Europe, along with another 50 short tons (45 t) on Johnson Barge No. 17, to explode in Jersey City, New Jersey, a major dock serving New York. There were few deaths, but about 100 injuries. Damage included buildings on Ellis Island, parts of the Statue of Liberty, and much of Jersey City.
On 19 January 1917, parts of Silvertown in East London were devastated by a TNT explosion at the Brunner-Mond munitions factory. 73 people died and hundreds were injured. The blast was felt across London and Essex and was heard over 100 mi (160 km) away, with the resulting fires visible for 30 mi (50 km).
On 10 February 1917, a chain reaction in an ammunition plant "Explosivstoffwerk Thorn" in Quickborn-Heide (northern Germany) killed at least 115 people (some sources say over 200 people), mostly young female workers.
Škoda Works in Bolevec, Plzeň, was the biggest ammunition plant in Austria-Hungary. A series of explosions on 25 May 1917 killed 300 workers. This event inspired Karel Čapek to write the novel Krakatit (1922).
Mines in the Battle of MessinesEdit
On 7 June 1917, a series of large British mines, containing a total of over 455 tons of ammonal explosive, was detonated beneath German lines on the Messines-Wytschaete ridge. The explosions created 19 large craters, killed about 10,000 German soldiers, and were heard as far away as London and Dublin. Determining the power of explosions is difficult, but this was probably the largest planned explosion in history until the 1945 Trinity atomic weapon test, and the largest non-nuclear planned explosion until the 1947 British Heligoland detonation (below). The Messines mines detonation killed more people than any other non-nuclear man-made explosion in history.
On 6 December 1917, SS Imo and SS Mont-Blanc collided in the harbour of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Mont-Blanc carried 2,653 tonnes of various explosives, mostly picric acid. After the collision the ship caught fire, drifted into town, and exploded. 1,950 people were killed and much of Halifax was destroyed. An evaluation of the explosion's force puts it at 2.9 kilotons of TNT (12 TJ). Halifax historian Jay White in 1994 concluded "Halifax Harbour remains unchallenged in overall magnitude as long as five criteria are considered together: number of casualties, force of blast, radius of devastation, quantity of explosive material, and total value of property destroyed."
Chilwell Munitions Factory ExplosionEdit
On 1 July 1918, the National Shell Filling Factory No 6 (Chilwell, near Nottingham, England) was partly destroyed when 8 tons of TNT exploded in the dry mix part of the factory. Approximately 140 workers – mainly young women, known as the 'Chilwell Canaries' because contact with TNT turned their skin yellow – were killed, though the true number has never been satisfactorily established. An unknown number of people were injured, though estimates place the figure around 250. Because of the sensitivity of the subject, reports of the explosion were censored until after the Armistice. The cause of the explosion was never officially established, though present-day authorities on explosives consider it was down to a combination of factors: an exceptionally hot day, high production demands and lax safety precautions.
Split Rock explosionEdit
On 2 July 1918, a munitions factory near Syracuse, New York, exploded after a mixing motor in the main TNT building overheated. The fire rapidly spread through the wooden structure of the main factory. Approximately 1–3 tons of TNT were involved in the blast, which levelled the structure and killed 50 workers (conflicting reports mention 52 deaths).
T. A. Gillespie Company Shell Loading Plant explosionEdit
On 4 October 1918, an ammunition plant — operated by the T. A. Gillespie Company and located in the Morgan area of Sayreville in Middlesex County, New Jersey — exploded and triggered a fire. The subsequent series of explosions continued for three days. The facility, said to be one of the largest in the world at the time, was destroyed, along with more than 300 buildings forcing reconstruction of South Amboy and Sayreville. Over 100 people died in this accident. Over a three-day period, a total of 12,000,000 pounds (5,400 t) of explosives were destroyed.
Nixon Nitration Works disasterEdit
On 1 March 1924, an explosion destroyed a building in Nixon, New Jersey used for processing ammonium nitrate. The explosion touched off fires in surrounding buildings in the Nixon Nitration Works that contained other highly flammable materials. The disaster killed twenty and destroyed forty buildings.
On 17 July 1932, a train carrying 320 to 330 tons of dynamite from the De Beers factory at Somerset West to the Witwatersrand exploded and flattened the small town of Leeudoringstad in South Africa. Five people were killed and 11 injured in the sparsely-populated area.
Neunkirchen gas detonationEdit
On 10 February 1933, a gas storage in Neunkirchen/Saar, Germany detonated during maintenance work. The detonation could be heard at 124 miles (200 km) distance. The death toll was 68, and 160 were injured.
New London School explosionEdit
On 18 March 1937, a natural gas leak caused an explosion, destroying the London School of New London, Texas. The disaster killed more than 295 students and teachers, making it the deadliest school disaster in American history. Letters of support were sent from around the world, including one telegram from Adolf Hitler.
Hirakata ammunition dump explosionEdit
On 1 March 1939, Warehouse No. 15 of the Japanese Imperial Army's Kinya ammunition dump in Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, Japan, suffered a catastrophic explosion, the sound of which could be heard throughout the Keihan area. Additional explosions followed over the next few days as the depot burned, for a total of 29 explosions by 3 March. Japanese officials reported that 94 people died, 604 were injured, and 821 houses were damaged, with 4,425 households in all suffering the effects of the explosions.
World War IIEdit
On 13 September 1939, the French cruiser Pluton exploded and sank while offloading naval mines in Casablanca, in French Morocco. The explosion killed 186 men, destroyed three nearby armed trawlers, and damaged nine more.
Hercules Powder PlantEdit
On 12 September 1940, nearly 300,000 pounds of gunpowder exploded at the Hercules Company in the Kenvil area of Roxbury, New Jersey. At least 51 people were killed, over 100 injured, and twenty buildings flattened. It remains unclear if this was an industrial accident, or sabotage by pro-IRA or pro-Nazi factions.
SS Clan FraserEdit
On 6 April 1941, SS Clan Fraser was moored in Piraeus harbour, Greece. Three German bombs struck her, igniting 350 tonnes of TNT; a nearby barge carried a further 100 tonnes which also detonated. British navy ships HMS Ajax and HMS Calcutta attempted to tow her out of harbour and succeeded in getting beyond the breakwater, after the tow line had broken three times. She then exploded, leveling large areas of the port. This was witnessed by post-war author Roald Dahl, who was piloting a fighter plane.
On 24 May 1941, HMS Hood sank in three minutes after the stern magazine detonated during the Battle of the Denmark Strait. The wreck has been located in three pieces, suggesting additional detonation of a forward magazine. There were only three survivors from the crew of 1,418.
Smederevo Fortress explosionEdit
During World War II, German invading forces in Serbia used Smederevo Fortress for ammunition storage. On 5 June 1941 it exploded, blasting through the entirety of Smederevo and reaching settlements as far as 10 km (6.2 mi) away. Much of the southern wall of the fortress was destroyed, the nearby railway station, packed with people, was blown away, and most of the buildings in the city were turned into debris. Around 2,500 people died in the explosion, and half of the inhabitants were injured (approximately 5,500).
On the night of 10 June 1942, the German submarine U-68 torpedoed the 8,600-ton British freighter Surrey in the Caribbean Sea. Five thousand tons of dynamite in the cargo detonated after the ship sank. The shock wave lifted U-68 out of the water as if she had suffered a torpedo hit, and both diesel engines and the gyrocompass were disabled.
Convoy SC 107Edit
On the night of 3 November 1942, torpedoes detonated the ammunition cargo of the 6,690-ton British freighter Hatimura. Both the freighter and attacking submarine U-132 were destroyed by the explosion.
Naples Caterina Costa explosionEdit
On 28 March 1943, in the port of Naples, a fire broke out on Caterina Costa, an 8,060-ton motor ship with arms and supplies (1,000 tons of gas, 900 tons of explosives, tanks and others); the fire became uncontrollable, causing a devastating explosion. A large number of buildings around were destroyed or badly damaged. Some ships nearby caught fire and sank, and hot parts of the ship and tanks were thrown great distances. More than 600 dead and over 3000 wounded.
Bombay Docks explosionEdit
On 14 April 1944, SS Fort Stikine, carrying around 1,400 long tons (1,400 t) of explosives (among other goods), caught fire and exploded, killing around 800 people.
Bergen Harbour explosionEdit
On 20 April 1944, the Dutch steam trawler ST Voorbode, loaded with 124,000 kilograms (124 t) of explosives, caught fire and exploded at the quay in the centre of Bergen. The air pressure from the explosion and the tsunami that followed flattened whole neighbourhoods near the harbour. Fires broke out in the aftermath, leaving 5,000 people homeless. 160 people were killed, and 5,000 wounded.
SS Paul HamiltonEdit
On 20 April 1944, the Liberty ship SS Paul Hamilton was attacked 30 miles (48 km) off Cape Bengut near Algiers by Luftwaffe bombers. The ship and 580 personnel aboard were destroyed within 30 seconds when the cargo of bombs and explosives detonated.
West Loch disasterEdit
On 21 May 1944, an ammunition handling accident in Pearl Harbor destroyed six LSTs and three LCTs. Four more LSTs, ten tugs, and a net tender were damaged. Eleven buildings were destroyed ashore and nine more damaged. Nearly 400 military personnel were killed.
Port Chicago disasterEdit
On 17 July 1944, in Port Chicago, California, SS E. A. Bryan exploded while loading ammunition bound for the Pacific, with an estimated 4,606 short tons (4,178 t) of high explosive (HE), incendiary bombs, depth charges, and other ammunition. Another 429 short tons (389 t) waiting on nearby rail cars also exploded. The total explosive content is described as between 1,600 and 2,136 tons of TNT. 320 were killed instantly, another 390 wounded. Most of the killed and wounded were African American enlisted men. Following the explosion, 258 fellow sailors refused to load ordnance; 50 of these, called the "Port Chicago 50", were convicted of mutiny even though they were willing to carry out any order that did not involve loading ordnance under unsafe conditions.
Cleveland East Ohio Gas explosionEdit
On 20 October 1944, a liquefied natural gas storage tank in Cleveland, Ohio, split and leaked its contents, which spread, caught fire, and exploded. A half hour later, another tank exploded as well. The explosions destroyed 1 square mile (2.6 km2), killed 130, and left 600 homeless.
USS Mount HoodEdit
On 10 November 1944, USS Mount Hood exploded in Seeadler Harbor at Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, with an estimated 3,800 tons of ordnance material on board. Mushrooming smoke rose to 7,000 feet (2,100 m), obscuring the surrounding area for a radius of approximately 500 yards (460 m). Mount Hood's former position was revealed by a trench in the ocean floor 1,000 feet (300 m) long, 200 feet (61 m) wide, and 30 to 40 feet (9.1 to 12.2 m) deep. The largest remaining piece of the hull was found in the trench and measured 16 by 10 feet (4.9 by 3.0 m). All 296 men aboard the ship were killed. USS Mindanao was 350 yards (320 m) away and suffered extensive damage, with 23 crew killed, and 174 injured. Several other nearby ships were also damaged or destroyed. Altogether 372 were killed and 371 injured in the blast.
RAF Fauld explosionEdit
On 27 November 1944, the RAF Ammunition Depot at Fauld, Staffordshire, became the site of the largest explosion in the UK, when 3,700 tonnes of bombs stored in underground bunkers covering 17,000 m2 (180,000 sq ft) exploded en masse. The explosion was caused by bombs being taken out of store, primed for use, and replaced with the detonators still installed when unused. The crater was 91 metres (299 ft) deep and covered 5 hectares. The death toll was approximately 78, including RAF personnel, six Italian prisoners of war, civilian employees, and local people. In the similar Port Chicago disaster (above), about half the weight of bombs was high explosive. If the same is true of the Fauld Explosion, it would have been equivalent to about 2 kilotons of TNT.
Japanese aircraft carrier UnryuEdit
SS John BurkeEdit
On December 28, 1944, while transporting ammunition to Mindoro, Philippines, the Liberty ship SS John Burke was hit by a Japanese kamikaze aircraft, and disintegrated in a tremendous explosion with the loss of all hands.
Japanese battleship YamatoEdit
On 7 April 1945, after six hours of battle, Japanese battleship Yamato's magazine exploded as she sank, resulting in a mushroom cloud rising six kilometres (3.7 mi) above the wreck, and which could be seen from Kyushu, 160 kilometres (99 mi) away. 3,055 crewmen were killed.
Trinity calibration testEdit
On 7 May 1945, 100 tons of TNT was stacked on a wooden tower and exploded to test the instrumentation prior to the test of the first atomic bomb.
Futamata Tunnel ExplosionEdit
On 12 November 1945, when the occupation troops were trying to dispose of 530 tons of ammunition, there was an explosion in a tunnel in Soeda, Fukuoka Prefecture, Kyushu Island. According to a confirmed official report, 147 local residents were killed and 149 people injured.[better source needed]
Texas City DisasterEdit
On 16 April 1947, SS Grandcamp, loaded with ammonium nitrate, exploded in port at Texas City, Texas. 581 died, over 5,000 injured. This is generally considered the worst industrial accident in United States history.
Heligoland "British Bang"Edit
On 18 April 1947, British engineers attempted to destroy the abandoned German fortifications on the evacuated island of Heligoland in what became known as the "British Bang". The island had been fortified during the war with a submarine base and airfield. Roughly 4000 tons of surplus World War II ammunition were placed in various locations around the island and set off. A significant portion of the fortifications were destroyed, although some survived. According to Willmore, the energy released was 1.3×1013 J, or about 3.2 kilotons of TNT equivalent. The blast is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records under largest single explosive detonation, although Minor Scale in 1985 was larger (see below).
Ocean Liberty in Brest, FranceEdit
On 28 July 1947, the Norwegian cargo ship Ocean Liberty exploded in the French port of Brest. The cargo consisted of 3,300 tonnes of ammonium nitrate in addition to paraffin and petrol. The explosion killed 22 people, hundreds were injured, 4,000–5,000 buildings were damaged.
On 18 August 1947, a naval ammunition warehouse containing mostly mines and torpedoes exploded in Cádiz, in southern Spain, for unknown reasons. The explosion of 200 tons of TNT destroyed a large portion of the city. Officially, the explosion killed 150 people; the real death toll is suspected to be higher.
"General Vatutin" cargo ship explosion in Magadan, RussiaEdit
On 19 December 1947, the Liberty class cargo ship "General Vatutin" exploded in the Soviet port of Magadan at Nagayeva Bay on the Russian Far East. The ship transported 3,313 tonnes of ammonal and TNT for the mining industry. Another cargo ship "Vyborg", carrying 193 tonnes of chemical substances including detonators and fuse cords, also detonated from the explosion. More than 90 people were killed, more than 500 were injured. The explosion caused a tsunami with broken ice. Port buildings were destroyed and damaged. Magadan city buildings were damaged.
On 15 July 1949 in the German town of Prüm, an underground bunker inside the hill of Kalvarienberg and used previously by the German army to store ammunition, but now filled with French army munitions, caught fire. After a mostly successful evacuation, the 500 tonnes of ammunition in the bunker exploded and destroyed large parts of the town. 12 people died and 15 were severely injured.
Cali explosion, ColombiaEdit
On 7 August 1956, seven trucks from the Colombian army, carrying more than 40 tons of dynamite, exploded. The explosion killed more than 1,000 people, and left a crater 25 metres (82 ft) deep and 60 metres (200 ft) in diameter.
Ripple Rock, British Columbia, CanadaEdit
On 5 April 1958, an underwater mountain at Ripple Rock, British Columbia, Canada was levelled by the explosion of 1,375 tonnes of Nitramex 2H, an ammonium nitrate-based explosive. This was one of the largest non-nuclear planned explosions on record, and the subject of the first CBC live broadcast coast-to-coast.
On 18 July 1963, a test blast of 50 tons of TNT in the Iron Range area of Queensland, Australia, tested the effects of nuclear weapons on tropical rainforest, military targets and ability of troops to transit through the resulting debris field.
CHASE 2, off New JerseyEdit
On 17 September 1964, the offshore disposal of the ship Village, containing 7,348 short tons (6,666 t) of obsolete munitions, caused unexpected detonations five minutes after sinking off New Jersey. The detonations were detected on seismic instruments around the world; the incident encouraged intentional detonation of subsequent disposal operations to determine detectability of underwater nuclear testing.
Operation Sailor HatEdit
A series of tests, Operation Sailor Hat, was performed off Kaho'olawe Island, Hawaii in 1965, using conventional explosives to simulate the shock effects of nuclear blasts on naval vessels. Each test saw the detonation of 500 short tons (450 t) of high explosives.
CHASE 3 and 4, off New JerseyEdit
On 14 July 1965, Coastal Mariner was loaded with 4,040 short tons (3,670 t) of obsolete munitions containing 512 short tons (464 t) of high explosives. The cargo was detonated at a depth of 1,000 feet (300 m) and created a 600-foot (200 m) water spout, but was not deep enough to be recorded on seismic instruments. On 16 September 1965, Santiago Iglesias was similarly detonated with 8,715 short tons (7,906 t) of obsolete munitions.
Feyzin disaster, near Lyon, FranceEdit
On 4 January 1966, an LPG spill occurred near Lyon, France and resulted in a cloud of propane vapour which persisted until it was ignited by a bypassing car. Several tanks BLEVE'd, causing the deaths of 18 people, the injury of 81 and extensive damage to the site.
On 21 October 1966, a mud flow protection dam near Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan was created by a series of four preliminary explosions of 1,800 tonnes total and a final explosion of 3,600 tonnes of ammonium nitrate-based explosive. On 14 April 1967, the dam was reinforced by an explosion of 3,900 tonnes of ammonium nitrate-based explosive.
CHASE 5, off Puget SoundEdit
On 23 May 1966, Izaac Van Zandt was loaded with 8,000 short tons (7,300 t) of obsolete munitions containing 400 short tons (360 t) of high explosives. The cargo was detonated off Puget Sound at a depth of 4,000 feet (1,200 m).
CHASE 6, off New JerseyEdit
On 28 July 1966, Horace Greeley was loaded with obsolete munitions and detonated off New Jersey at a depth of 4,000 feet (1,200 m).
N1 launch explosionEdit
On 3 July 1969, an N1 rocket in the Soviet Union exploded on the launch pad, after a turbopump exploded in one of the engines. The entire rocket contained about 680,000 kg (680 t) of kerosene and 1,780,000 kg (1,780 t) of liquid oxygen. Using a standard energy release of 43 MJ/kg of kerosene gives about 29 TJ for the energy of the explosion (about 6.93 kt TNT equivalent). Investigators later determined that up to 85% of the fuel in the rocket did not detonate, meaning that the blast yield was likely no more than 1 kt TNT equivalent. Comparing explosions of initially unmixed fuels is difficult (being part detonation and part deflagration).
Old Reliable Mine BlastEdit
On 9 March 1972, 2,000 tons (4 million pounds) of explosive were detonated inside three levels of tunnels in the Old Reliable Mine near Mammoth, Arizona. The blast was an experimental attempt to break up the ore body so that metals (primarily copper) could be extracted using sulfuric acid in a heap-leach process. The benefits of increased production were short-lived while the costs of managing acid mine drainage due to the sulfide ore body being exposed to oxygen continue to the present day.
On 1 June 1974, a pipe failure at the Nypro chemical plant in Flixborough, England, caused a large release of flammable cyclohexane vapour. This ignited and the resulting fuel-air explosion destroyed the plant, killing 28 people and injuring 36 more. Beyond the plant 1,821 houses and 167 shops and factories had suffered to a greater or lesser degree. Fires burned for 16 days. The explosion occurred at a weekend otherwise the casualties would have been much heavier. This explosion caused a significant strengthening of safety regulations for chemical plants in the United Kingdom.
Iri Station ExplosionEdit
On 11 November 1977, a freight train carrying 40 tons of dynamite from Gwangju suddenly exploded at Iri station (present-day Iksan), Jeollabuk-do province, South Korea. The cause of the explosion was accidental ignition by a drunk guard. 59 people lost their lives, and 185 others seriously wounded; altogether, over 1,300 people were injured or killed.
Los Alfaques disasterEdit
On 11 July 1978, an overloaded tanker truck carrying 23 tons of liquefied propylene crashed and ruptured in Spain, emitting a white cloud of ground-hugging fumes which spread into a nearby campground and discothèque before reaching an ignition source and exploding. 217 people were killed and 200 more severely burned.
Benton fireworks disasterEdit
On 27 May 1983, an explosion at an illegal fireworks factory near Benton, Tennessee, killed eleven, injured one, and caused damage within a radius of several miles. The blast created a mushroom cloud 600 to 800 feet (180 to 240 m) tall and was heard as far as fifteen miles (24 km) away.
1983 Newark explosionEdit
Minor Scale and Misty PictureEdit
Many very large detonations have been carried out in order to simulate the effects of nuclear weapons on vehicles and other military material. The largest publicly known test was conducted by the United States Defense Nuclear Agency (now part of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency) on 27 June 1985 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. This test, called Minor Scale, used 4,744 short tons (4,304 t) of ANFO, with a yield of about 4 kt (3,900 long tons; 4,400 short tons). Misty Picture was another similar test a few years later, slightly smaller at 4,685 short tons or 4,250 t.
On 4 May 1988, about 4,250 short tons (3,860 metric tons) of ammonium perchlorate (NH4ClO4) caught fire and set off explosions near Henderson, Nevada. A 16-inch (41 cm) natural gas pipeline ruptured under the stored ammonium perchlorate and added fuel to the later, larger explosions. There were seven detonations in total, the largest being the last. Two people were killed and hundreds injured. The largest explosion was estimated to be equivalent to 0.25 kilotons of TNT (1.0 TJ). The accident was caught on video by a broadcast engineer servicing a transmitter on Black Mountain, between Henderson and Las Vegas.
Arzamas train disasterEdit
The Arzamas explosion, known also as Arzamas train disaster, occurred on 4 June 1988, when three goods wagons transporting hexogen to Kazakhstan exploded on a railway crossing in Arzamas, Gorky Oblast, Soviet Union. Explosion of 118 tons of hexogen made a 26-metre (85 ft) deep crater, and caused major damage, killing 91 people and injuring 1,500. 151 buildings were destroyed.
Ufa train disasterEdit
On 4 June 1989, a gas explosion destroyed two trains (37 cars and two locomotives) in the Soviet Union. At least 575 people died and more than 800 were injured.
Intelsat 708 Long March 3B launch failureEdit
On 14 February 1996, a Chinese rocket veered severely off course immediately after clearing the launch tower, then crashed into a nearby city and exploded. Following the disaster, foreign media were kept in a bunker for five hours while, some alleged, the Chinese military attempted to "clean up" the damage. Officials later blamed the failure on an "unexpected gust of wind" although video shows this is not the case. Xinhua News Agency initially reported 6 deaths and 57 injuries.
Enschede fireworks disasterEdit
On 13 May 2000, 177 tonnes of fireworks exploded in Enschede, in the Netherlands, in which 23 people were killed and 947 were injured. The first explosion had the order of 800 kg TNT equivalence; the final explosion was in the range of 4,000–5,000 kg TNT.
AZF chemical factoryEdit
On 21 September 2001, an explosion occurred at a fertilizer factory in Toulouse, France. The disaster caused 31 deaths, 2,500 seriously wounded, and 8,000 light injuries. The blast (estimated yield of 20–40 tons of TNT, comparable in scale to the military test Operation Blowdown) was heard 80 km away (50 miles) and registered 3.4 on the Richter magnitude scale. It damaged about 30,000 buildings over about two-thirds of the city, for an estimated total cost of about €2 billion.
A train exploded in North Korea on 22 April 2004. According to official figures, 54 people were killed and 1,249 were injured.
Seest fireworks disasterEdit
On 3 November 2004, about 284 tonnes of fireworks exploded in Kolding, in Denmark. One firefighter was killed, and a mass evacuation of 2,000 people saved many lives. The cost of the damage was estimated at €100 million.
Texas City Refinery explosionEdit
On 23 March 2005, there was a hydrocarbon leak due to incorrect operations during a start up which caused a vapour cloud explosion when ignited by a running vehicle engine. There were 15 deaths and more than 170 injured.
2005 Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal fireEdit
On 11 December 2005, there was a series of major explosions at the 60,000,000 imp gal (270,000,000 L) capacity Buncefield oil depot near Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England. The explosions were heard over 100 mi (160 km) away, as far as the Netherlands and France, and the resulting flames were visible for many miles around the depot. A smoke cloud covered Hemel Hempstead and nearby parts of west Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. There were no fatalities, but there were around 43 injuries (2 serious). The British Geological Survey estimated the equivalent yield of the explosion as 29.5 tonnes TNT.
Sea Launch failureEdit
On 30 January 2007, a Sea Launch Zenit-3SL space rocket exploded on takeoff. The explosion consumed the roughly 400,000 kg (400 t) of kerosene and liquid oxygen on board. This rocket was launched from an uncrewed ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so there were no casualties; the launch platform was damaged and the NSS-8 satellite was destroyed.
2007 Maputo arms depot explosionEdit
On 22 March 2007, a series of explosions over 2.5 hours rocked the Mozambican capital of Maputo. The incident was blamed on high temperatures. Officials confirmed 93 fatalities and more than 300 injuries.
2008 Gërdec explosionsEdit
On Saturday, 15 March 2008, at an ex-military ammunition depot in the village of Gërdec in the Vorë Municipality, Albania (14 kilometers from Tirana, the nation's capital), U.S and Albanian munitions experts were preparing to destroy stockpiles of obsolete ammunition. The main explosion, involving more than 400 tons of propellant in containers, destroyed hundreds of houses within a few kilometers from the depot and broke windows in cars on the Tirana-Durrës highway. A large fire caused a series of smaller but powerful explosions that continued until 2 a.m. on Sunday. The explosions could be heard as far away as the Macedonian capital of Skopje, 170 km (110 mi) away. There were 26 killed, 318 houses were destroyed completely, 200 buildings were seriously damaged, and 188 buildings were less seriously damaged.
2009 Cataño oil refinery fireEdit
On the morning of 23 October 2009, there was a major explosion at the petrol tanks at the Caribbean Petroleum Corporation oil refinery and oil depot in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. The explosion was seen and heard from 50 miles (80 km) away and left a smoke plume with tops as high as 30,000 feet (9 km) It caused a 3.0 earthquake and blew glass out of windows around the city. The resulting fire was extinguished on 25 October.
Ulyanovsk arms depot explosionEdit
On 13 and 23 November 2009, 120 tons of Soviet-era artillery shells blew up in two separate sets of explosions at the 31st Arsenal of the Caspian Sea Flotilla's ammunition depot near Ulyanovsk, killing ten.
Around 5:45 am local time on 11 July 2011, a fire at a munitions dump at Evangelos Florakis Naval Base near Zygi, Cyprus, caused the explosion of 98 cargo containers holding various types of munitions. The naval base was destroyed, as was Cyprus's biggest power plant, the "Vassilikos" power plant 500 m (1,600 ft) away. The explosion also caused 13 deaths and over 60 injuries. Injuries were reported up to 5 km (3.1 mi) away and damaged houses were reported as far as 10 km (6.2 mi) away. Seismometers at the Mediterranean region recorded the explosion as a M3.0 seismic event.
Cosmo Oil Refinery fireEdit
On 11 March 2011, the Tōhoku earthquake caused natural gas containers in the Cosmo Oil Refinery of Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, Japan to catch fire, destroying storage tanks and injuring six. As it burned, several pressurized liquefied propane gas storage tanks exploded into fireballs. It was extinguished by the Cosmo Oil Company on 21 March 2011.
Donguz Ammunition depot explosionEdit
Texas fertilizer plant explosionEdit
On 17 April 2013, a fire culminating in an explosion shortly before 8 p.m. CDT (00:50 UTC, 18 April) destroyed the West Fertilizer Company plant in West, Texas, located 18 miles (29 km) north of Waco, Texas. The blast killed 15 people, injured over 160, and destroyed over 150 buildings. The United States Geological Survey recorded the explosion as a 2.1-magnitude earthquake, the equivalent of 7.5 – 10 tons of TNT.
Lac-Mégantic rail disasterEdit
On 6 July 2013, a train of 73 tank cars of light crude oil ran away down a slight incline, after being left unattended for the night, when the air brakes failed after the locomotive engines were shut down following a small fire. It derailed twelve kilometres away in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada, igniting the Bakken light crude oil from 44 DOT-111 oil cars. Approximately 3–4 minutes after the initial blast, there was a second explosion from 12 oil cars. A series of smaller blasts followed into the early morning hours, igniting the oil of a total 73 oil cars. The disaster is known to have killed 42 people; five more were missing and presumed dead.
2015 Tianjin explosionsEdit
On 12 August 2015, at 23:30, two explosions occurred in the Chinese port Tianjin at a warehouse operated by Ruihai Logistics. The more powerful explosion was estimated at 336 tons TNT equivalent. 173 people were killed, and 8 remain missing.
2016 San Pablito Market fireworks explosionEdit
On 20 December 2016, a fireworks explosion occurred at the San Pablito Market in the city of Tultepec, north of Mexico City. At least 42 people were killed, and dozens injured.
2020 Tarragona IQOXE plant explosionEdit
On 14 January 2020, an ethylene oxide tank exploded at the IQOXE (Chemical Industries of Ethylene Oxide) plant in Tarragona (Spain).
2020 Beirut explosionEdit
On 4 August 2020, a warehouse containing 2,750 tonnes (3,030 short tons) of ammonium nitrate exploded following a fire in the Port of Beirut, Lebanon. The explosion generated a pressure wave felt more than 240 kilometres (150 mi) away. Following early estimates of the yield of the explosion ranging from hundreds of tons of TNT equivalent to 1.1 kilotons, a study by researchers from the Blast and Impact Research Group at the University of Sheffield estimated the energy of the Beirut explosion to be equivalent to 0.5 - 1.2 kt of TNT. At least 200 people were killed, more than 6,500 injured, and about 300,000 made homeless. Much of central Beirut was devastated by the blast with property damage estimated at US$10–15 billion.
Comparison with large non-nuclear military ordnanceEdit
The most powerful non-nuclear weapons ever designed are the United States' MOAB (standing for Massive Ordnance Air Blast, also nicknamed Mother Of All Bombs, tested in 2003 and used on April 13, 2017, in Achin District, Afghanistan) and the Russian Father of All Bombs (tested in 2007). The MOAB contains 18,700 lb (8.5 t) of the H6 explosive, which is 1.35 times as powerful as TNT, giving the bomb an approximate yield of 11 t TNT. It would require about 250 MOAB blasts to equal the Halifax explosion (2.9 kt).
Conventional explosions for nuclear testingEdit
|Event||Explosive used||Amount of explosive||Where||Date|
|Trinity (100-ton test on tower)||TNT||100 short tons (91 t)||White Sands Proving Grounds||7 May 1945|
|–||TNT||100 short tons (91 t)||Suffield Experimental Station, Alberta, Canada||3 August 1961|
|Blowdown||TNT||50 short tons (45 t)||Lockhart River, Queensland||18 July 1963|
|Snowball||TNT||500 short tons (450 t)||Suffield Experimental Station, Alberta, Canada||17 July 1964|
|Sailor Hat||TNT||3 tests × 500 short tons (450 t)||Kaho'olawe, Hawaii||1965|
|Distant Plain||Propane or methane||20 short tons (18 t)||Suffield Experimental Station, Alberta, Canada||1966–1967 (6 tests)|
|Prairie Flat||TNT||500 short tons (450 t)||Defence Research Establishment Suffield, Alberta, Canada||1968|
|Dial Pack||TNT||500 short tons (450 t)||Defence Research Establishment Suffield, Alberta, Canada||23 July 1970|
|Mixed Company 3||TNT||500 short tons (450 t)||Colorado||20 November 1972|
|Dice Throw||ANFO||620 short tons (560 t)||White Sands Missile Range||6 October 1976|
|Misers Bluff Phase II||ANFO||1 & 6-simultaneous tests × 120 short tons (110 t)||Planet Ranch, Arizona||Summer 1978|
|Distant Runner||ANFO||2 tests × 120 short tons (110 t)||White Sands Missile Range||1981|
|Mill Race||ANFO||620 short tons (560 t)||White Sands Missile Range||16 September 1981|
|Direct Course||ANFO||609 short tons (552 t)||White Sands Missile Range||26 October 1983|
|Minor Scale||ANFO||4,744 short tons (4,304 t)||White Sands Missile Range||27 June 1985|
|Misty Picture||ANFO||4,685 short tons (4,250 t)||White Sands Missile Range||14 May 1987|
|Misers Gold||ANFO||2,445 short tons (2,218 t)||White Sands Missile Range||1 June 1989|
|Distant Image||ANFO||2,440 short tons (2,210 t)||White Sands Missile Range||20 June 1991|
|Minor Uncle||ANFO||2,725 short tons (2,472 t)||White Sands Missile Range||10 June 1993|
|Non Proliferation Experiment||ANFO||1,410 short tons (1,280 t)||Nevada Test Site||22 September 1993|
Other smaller tests include Air Vent I and Flat Top I-III series of 20 tons TNT at Nevada Test Site in 1963–64, Pre Mine Throw and Mine Throw in 1970–1974, Mixed Company 1 & 2 of 20 tons TNT, Middle Gust I-V series of 20 or 100 tons TNT in the early 1970s, Pre Dice Throw and Pre Dice Throw II in 1975, Pre-Direct Course in 1982, SHIST in 1994, and the series Dipole Might in the 1990s and 2000s. Divine Strake was a planned test of 700 tons ANFO at the Nevada Test Site in 2006, but was cancelled.
Largest accidental artificial non-nuclear explosions by magnitudeEdit
These yields are approximated by the amount of the explosive material and its properties. They are rough estimates and are not authoritative.
|#||Event||Location||Date||Primary explosive material(s)||Approximate yield (TNT)||Mean yield (TNT)|
|1||Halifax Explosion||Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada||6 December 1917||High explosives||2.9 kt of TNT (<12 TJ)||2.9 kt of TNT (<12 TJ)|
|2||RAF Fauld explosion||RAF Fauld, Staffordshire, United Kingdom||27 November 1944||Military ammunition||2 kt of TNT (8 TJ)||2 kt of TNT (8 TJ)|
|3||Port Chicago disaster||Port Chicago, California, United States||17 July 1944||Military ammunition||1.6–2.2 kt of TNT (7–9 TJ)||1.9 kt of TNT (8 TJ)|
|4||Oppau explosion||Ludwigshafen, Germany||21 September 1921||Ammonium sulphate and ammonium nitrate fertiliser||1–2 kt of TNT (4–8 TJ)||1.5 kt of TNT (6 TJ)|
|5||DuPont Powder Mill explosion||Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, United States||9 March 1911||Dynamite and gunpowder||1.1 kt of TNT (4.4 TJ)||1.1 kt of TNT (4.4 TJ)|
|6||2020 Beirut explosions||Beirut, Lebanon||4 August 2020||Ammonium nitrate||~0.5 (<1.12) kt of TNT (2.09–4.69 TJ)||0.8 kt of TNT (3.3 TJ)|
|7||Texas City disaster||Texas City, Texas, United States||16 April 1947||Ammonium nitrate||0.73–0.86 kt of TNT (3–3.6 TJ)||0.79 kt of TNT (3.3 TJ)|
|8||N1 launch explosion||Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 110, Kazakh SSR, Soviet Union||3 July 1969||Rocket propellant||0.3–1 kt of TNT (1.5–4 TJ)||0.65 kt of TNT (2.5 TJ)|
|9||Evangelos Florakis Naval Base explosion||Evangelos Florakis Naval Base, Cyprus||11 July 2011||Military ammunition and high explosives||0.48 kt of TNT (2.01 TJ)||0.48 kt of TNT (2.01 TJ)|
|10||2015 Tianjin explosions||Port of Tianjin, China||12 August 2015||Ammonium nitrate and nitrocellulose||0.28–0.33 kt of TNT (1.3–1.4 TJ)||0.3 kt of TNT (1.35 TJ)|
|11||PEPCON disaster||Henderson, Nevada, United States||4 May 1988||Ammonium perchlorate||0.25 kt of TNT (1 TJ)||0.25 kt of TNT (1 TJ)|
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