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HALIFAX DEAD MAY BE 2,000
HALIFAX, N.S., Dec. 6 – Chief of Police Hanrahan to-night estimates that the dead from the explosion on a munition ship and subsequent fire, destroying a large section of the north end of the city, may reach two thousand. Another estimate says over two thousand. Twenty-five teams loaded with bodies have arrived at one of the morgues.
CITY SHATTERED BY EXPLOSION
Halifax Half in Ruins as Munitions Ship Blows Up
COLLISION IN HARBOUR
Whole Streets Wrecked and Hundreds Killed by Fire and Debris
(Canadian Press Despatch)
HALIFAX, Dec. 7. – (Friday). – It is now estimated the dead will exceed two thousand.
Halifax, Dec. 6 – As the result of a terrific explosion aboard the munition ship Mont Blanc in Halifax harbor this morning, a large part of the north end of the city and along the waterfront is in ruins and the loss of life is appalling. Early estimates place the number of dead at between eight hundred and one thousand, but late to-night the Chief of police placed the killed at possibly 2,000. On one ship alone, forty persons were killed. Thousands have been injured. The property damage is enormous, and there is scarcely a window left in the city. Among the dead are the Fire Chief and his deputy. They were hurled to death when a fire engine exploded. Fire followed the explosion and this added to the greatest catastrophe in the history of the city.
All business has been suspended and armed guards of soldiers and sailors are patrolling the city. Not a street car is moving, and part of the city is in darkness. All the hospitals and many private houses are filled with injured.
The offices of the railway station, Arena rink, military gymnasium, sugar refinery and elevator collapsed, and injured scores of persons.
The munition ship was bound from New York for Bedford Basin, when she collided with the Belgian relief ship Imo bound for sea.
Explosion Shakes Whole City.
Following the collision, the explosion occurred, and in less than a minute the whole city was shaken from the foundation. Thousands rushed for the open, and some of the little children in the schools became panic-stricken. On every street could be seen adults and children with blood streaming from their wounds, rushing to the nearest doctor’s office. The work of rescue was greatly impeded by the piles of debris in the devastated area.
Great Areas in Ruins.
A part of the town of Dartmouth is also in ruins.
Thousands of persons have been rendered homeless. The Academy of Music and many other public buildings have been thrown open to house the homeless.
Five hundred tents have been erected on the Common, and these will be occupied by the troops, who have given up their barracks to house the homeless women and children.
Temporary hospitals and morgues have been opened in the school houses in the western section of the city. The doctors and nurses worked heroically in rendering aid to the injured.
Fate of the Vessels.
The collision which occurred between the two steamers took place near the point of the harbor known as Pier Eight, and was between a French munition ship, the Mont Blanc, and an unnamed Belgian relief ship.
The Mont Blanc lies in the Narrows, shattered, while the Belgian relief boat is beached on the Dartmouth side of the harbor, near what is known as Tuft’s Cove.
Explosion Comes Like Bolt From Blue
At nine o’clock the city was enjoying its usual period of calm and the streets were crowded with people wending their way to work, little thinking of that which in a few minutes was to befall them.
Suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, there came an explosion. From one end of the city to the other glass fell, and people were lifted from the sidewalks and thrown flat into the streets. In the down-town offices, just beginning to hum with the usual day’s activities, clerks and heads alike cowered under the shower of falling glass and plaster which fell about them.
The collision was a terrific one, the munition boat being pierced on the port side almost to the engine-room. The relief vessel, which was practically uninjured, kept going ahead with the wounded craft, and when the fire was seen to break aboard her, backed away, and the crew started to abandon her.
Houses Crumpled Up.
The Mont Blanc drifted away, a burning wreck, while the relief boat beached near Tuft’s Cove on the Dartmouth side of the harbor. Seventeen minutes after the collision the explosion occurred. Under the force of the explosion houses crumpled like decks of cards, while the unfortunate residents were swept to death in the debris.
In the main portion of the city, where the buildings are more or less of stone or concrete construction, the damage was confined to the blowing in of windows, and the injuries sustained by citizens were in the main due to the cuts from flying glass. Proceeding south to the extreme end of the city the same thing was observed.
Like Town in Flanders.
In the west end and northwest end the damage was more extensive, and the walls of houses were in places blown to atoms, and the plaster and laths strewn on the streets more like a small section of Flanders than a town or city of Canada.
The main damage, however, was done in the north end of the city known as Richmond, which was opposite the point of the vessels’ collision. Here the damage is so extensive as to be totally beyond the field of description. Street after street is in ruins and flames swept over the district. In this section many of the larger buildings are a mouldering heap of ruins and the ordinary frame houses are a mere heap of shattered, flattened ruins.
Automobiles scurried here and there in this section of the city, each bearing a blanket clad burden which told only too plainly of serious injuries, or in many cases death.
The hospitals, each and everyone with admirable order, were rendering aid, and in the military hospitals the soldiers who wer on guard duty were being hurried in odd twisted heaps and blackened, powder-stained faces to the wards for relief.
Terror-stricken People Throng the Streets
Five minutes after the explosion occurred the streets were filled with a terror-stricken mob of people, all trying to make their way as best they might to the outskirts in order to get out of the range of what they thought to be a German raid.
Women rushed in terror-stricken mobs through the streets, many of them with children clasped to their breasts. In their eyes was a look of terror as they struggled in mobs through the streets with blood-stained faces and endeavored to get anywhere from the falling masonry and crumbling walls.
Torn and Wrecked Bodies.
By the wire and lath-littered roadsides as they were passed there could be seen the remains of what had once been human beings, now sadly torn and wrecked, but beyond realization of what had occurred.
Here and there by a cracked and shattered telegraph pole was the cloth-wrapped body of a tiny tot scarred and twisted in the force of the horrible explosion which had withered all in its path.
Women See Homes Burn.
By the side of many of the burning ruins were women who watched with horror the flames as they consumed the houses, which in many instances held the bodies of loved ones. With dry eyes they watched their homes perish in the flames, and as others passed with inquiries as to whether they could render any aid they shook their heads in a dazed manner, and turned their gaze once more to the funeral pyre on all those whom they held dear.
A Sad Case.
Among the hundreds who were killed by the explosion was one particularly sad case of a Canadian Government employee named MacDonald, who, on rushing to his home after the explosion, found that all his family, consisting of his wife and four children, had perished. Before him on the roadway were the mangled remains of his little two-year-old child, who had met death while playing on the roadside.
Many of those composing the crews of ships were killed and injured. The damage along the water front is very serious.
On one steamer, the Picton, it is reported that thirty-three of the crew of forty-two have been killed. Many bodies of seamen have been picked up in the harbor and rescue parties are working among the ruins of buildings removing bodies of the dead.
The munition ship, after the crew left her, veered in towards the Halifax side of the harbor, and the city received the full force of the explosion.
Pitiable Scenes in the Schools.
The rescuers, who were early on the scene, say that the sights in the public schools at the north end of the city were pitiable. They founds the bodies of dozens of little children and scores of others with broken limbs and covered with blood.
Fear of Another Explosion Causes Panic in City
After the explosion the whole population was thrown into a state of excitement by the report that a second munition ship of the magazine at the dockyard might blow up. Automobiles rushed through the streets warning people to rush to the open spaces in the south end of the city. In less than half an hour, 5,000 people, lightly clad, had gathered on the Common, and hundreds of others sought refuge in the fields. The magazine was flooded, and by noon all the danger was passed. Scores of persons are reported missing, and it is not known whether they are dead or at the homes of friends.
Newspapers Out of Business.
The concussion shattered the big gasometer and thousands of feet of gas escaped. All the power plants in the city are out of commission, and the newspaper offices have been so badly wrecked that publication of the papers is impossible.
Bluejackets from an American warship are assisting in patrolling the streets to-night.
Among the dead is Lebaron Coleman, Manager of the Canadian Express Company. He was killed at North Street Station when the roof collapsed.