Explosions have been causing trouble throughout our history, and there’s no one else to blame but ourselves. From nuclear power plant crises to oil refinery disasters, from nuclear meltdowns to launch explosions, humans have a really good habit of blowing things up. Unfortunately, these explosions often result to hundreds or even thousands of casualties. The biggest explosions ever and the most famous in history were either effected from testing bombs, attacks, or accidents. But all of them share the same end: they all killed countless of innocent people.
Here, we will show you a list of the most horrific man-made explosions in world history that are both disturbing and chaotic, such as the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, the accidental man-made explosion and nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl, and the recent chemical plant explosion in China that happened on August 2015. Also one of the biggest historical explosions was caused by the Soviet tests during the space race against the United States, while one resulted from the nonnuclear testing done by the Americans themselves. The biggest explosions are either caused by military exercises and industrial negligence, but either way, it has been written in our history books and will never be forgotten, especially the chaos that it brought to the world. We will now do a countdown of the most famous and the worst explosions in history.
Chernobyl Nuclear Meltdown
The explosion at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was the worst nuclear power plant accident ever. It was April 26, 1986, when the destructive explosion took place in Ukraine, and almost three decades after, it still remains to be the largest radiation effect caused by a nuclear explosion.
The nuclear accident was caused by a power failure experiment. Although it only killed a total of thirty-one people, the effects of radiation from the area unleashed by the blast caused 25,000 cases of cancer.
2015 Tianjin Explosion
On August 12, 2015, a fire started at the Port of Tianjin in the Chinese city of Tianjin that killed hundreds of people. Chinese authorities initially tried to censor reports of industrial accident, but the news spread quickly because more than a hundred civilians are dead, with 700 injured, and 57 are still missing. Hazardous materials kept in a chemical warehouse were what made the blast more dangerous.
N1 Moon Rocket Launch Explosion
A secret mission led by a group of Soviet engineers took event on July 3, 1969, aimed to beat America in the race to go to space. Weeks before the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Soviet Union launched the second test of the N-1 rocket system powered by thirty engines. The result? A disaster that officially became the largest rocket explosion in history. When the rocket was launched, one of the engines failed, causing the rest to instantly explode too. There were no casualties, but the explosion was so huge it was visible even from miles away.
The Halifax Harbor explosion happened in the morning of December 6, 1917, when the French cargo ship Mont Blanc crashed into the Norwegian vessel Imo in Nova Scotia, Canada.
The crash was felt hundreds of miles away, and thousands of tons of wartime explosives were ignited on the French ship, causing a searing white hot explosion. The catastrophe killed 2,000 people, blinded 200, and injured a total of 9,000 people, making it one of the deadliest explosions in the history of mankind.
In the summer of 1985, a nuclear test was conducted by the United States Defense Nuclear Energy to see what a tiny nuke explosion would look like. Turned out, it didn’t result to just a tiny nuke explosion for the blast looked like a fireball and became the largest planned conventional explosion in world history. It took several thousands of more traditional explosives to make that kind of blast.
Father of All Bombs
Judging by its name, The Father of All Bombs (FOAB), you might already have an idea what it is. The FOAB is the most powerful nonnuclear air-delivered bomb of all time. In the fall of 2007, the Russian military successfully tested it out, resulting in an explosion with a blast radius of 990 feet. The vacuum bomb was packed with the destructive power of a nuke without a nuclear reaction, that’s why it’s also a nonnuclear test.
Japanese Battleship Yamato
The Japanese Battleship Yamato was sent on a suicide mission against the United States, which failed to engage after the Americans bombed it from the sky, causing the ship to explode.
The mission was one of Japan’s last few attempts to take revenge against the United States, but it was a disaster, killing over 3,000 crewmen. The explosion on the ship was so huge that it resulted a mushroom cloud over 3.7 miles high. The attack happened on April 7, 1945, in Kyushu, Japan.
The Tsar Bomba, also known as Big Ivan, has been the most powerful nuke ever detonated, which gave birth to the most powerful artificial explosion in the history of mankind.
The Tsar Bomba was the subject of a nuclear testing that happened on October 30, 1961, at the Mityushikha Bay, Russia. It was a bomb detonated by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which unfortunately resulted to a huge shockwave that broke windows more than 500 miles from the actual site and creating clouds of mushroom roughly 40 miles high.
Port Chicago Disaster
The people working at Port Chicago were African American who enlisted in the Navy. On July 17, 1944, these sailors were transferring 4,600 tons of explosives onto a cargo vessel when they first heard the blast. After the first bang, a chain of explosions started setting off with 400 additional tons of explosives released. The explosion was felt hundreds of miles away from Nevada. A total of 332 sailors were killed during the explosion.
It was November 1, 1952, when the Americans launched the first test of a thermonuclear weapon at the Pacific Ocean as part of Operation Ivy. The device was called the Mike and was designed by Richard Garwin. However, the device blew up, creating an explosion that was so huge it created a mushroom cloud that had a diameter of over 100 miles.
Judging from the photo, this is obviously larger than the Hiroshima bomb. In fact, it was over a thousand times bigger and left a crater about a mile wide.
Performed on March 1, 1954, the Castle Bravo was the first test of the Americans on a dry fuel hydrogen bomb. The experiment, which was done over the Marshall Islands, led to the biggest accidental radioactive contamination. The explosion nearly killed a radio reporter standing nearby.
Evangelos Florakis Naval Base Explosion
The July 11, 2011, Evangelos Florakis Naval Base Explosion was the worst peacetime military accident ever recorded in Cyprus and even in the whole world.
It was supposed to be a normal day at the Naval base in Zygi, Cyprus, until ninety-eight containers that contained explosives were ineffectively stored, resulting it to be exposed to direct sunlight for over two years, and causing it to self-detonate. The blast took the lives of thirteen people, including the commander of the Navy, and left sixty-two people injured.
A-Bombs Over Japan
The world will never forget what happened on the Nuclear Bomb Deployment in Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6 and 9, 1945. The United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the final stage of the Second World War and killed over 129,000 people. Pres. Harry S. Truman made the decision to use nuclear weapons in warfare, technically making him the first person to authorize the deaths of almost 130,000 people.
Detonated on March 27, 1954, the subject bomb of the Castle Romeo test was one of the series of explosives detonated by the United States as part of their Operation Castle. It was released on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands and produced a 15-megaton yield, making it the most powerful nuclear device ever tested by the US and the first that could be dropped from the air.
Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster
The biggest train crash event in the history of Quebec, Canada, took place on July 7, 2013, which left forty-seven people dead. It started when a freight train of seventy-four cars, loaded with crude oil, derailed and rolled down a hill, causing the tank cars to explode. The event did not only take lives, it knocked forty huge building into rubble.
Texas City Disaster
The Texas City disaster was the industrial accident that led to the first-ever class action lawsuit against the American government. On April 16, 1947, over 2,000 metric tons of ammonium nitrate accidentally detonated on a French ship in the Port of Texas City. Leaving every member of the Texas City Fire Department lifeless and a death toll of 581, the explosion is tagged as the deadliest industrial accident in American history.
Because we already discussed about Castle Romeo and Castle Bravo, it’s time to go into details about the Castle Yankee disaster. It is the second most powerful nuclear device that the Americans tested, and it took the fallout only four days to extend over 7,100 miles and reach as far as the Mexican territory. The Castle Yankee bomb was classified as a thermonuclear and had an amount of energy that equaled to 13.5 megatons of trinitrotoluene (TNT). Like the Castle Romeo, it was detonated in Bikini Atoll in Marshall islands.
San Juanico Disaster
On November 19, 1984, a gas leak at a liquid petroleum farm led to a series of explosions of highly flammable gasses, shifting with the wind and setting fire to neighboring US National Library of Medicine areas. The blast waves not only produced an explosive cloud but also destroyed the nearby houses and communities and killed over 500 people.
Royal Navy Test
Named as the biggest single nonnuclear detonation in history, the explosion in Heligoland was a decade of catastrophic incidents. From 1945 to 1952, the Royal Navy detonated a total of 6,700 tonnes of explosives to the uninhabited Heligoland. The blast, which also goes by the name Big Bang or British Bang, shook the main island several miles down to its base, even changing its original shape.
Cataño Oil Refinery Fire
The enormous fire started at the Caribbean Petroleum Corporation oil depot and refinery, which injured three people. Luckily, no one was killed during the explosion. The first blast was so big that it caused a magnitude 2.8 earthquake, and the fire spread so fast, forcing many people to evacuate their homes.
The explosion happened on October 23, 2009, at Bayamon, Puerto Rico, and it took firefighters two days to completely put out the fire.