Chaotic images from Beirut still continue to haunt social media after a massive explosion rocked the port city on Tuesday, damaging buildings and blowing out windows and doors. More than 100 people have lost their lives, 4000 injured and thousands have been displaced by the deadly explosion. Also Read - These 'Before & After' Images of Beirut Show the Extensive Damage & Destruction Caused By Explosion | Watch
Well, around 76 years ago, Mumbai too was devastated by a similar tragedy. Turns out the Beirut blast is strikingly similar in nature to the Bombay Dock explosion on 14 April 1944, which killed over 700 people, injured 2,500 others and displaced many.
Known as the S.S Fort Stikine explosion, it was one of the worst fire disasters in Indian History.
At a time when World War II was at its peak, a massive explosion occurred at Mumbai’s Victoria Docks when freight steamer SS Fort Stikine, caught fire. The ship was carrying hundreds of cotton bales, gold bullion, gunpowder and 300 tons of trinitrotoluene (TNT or dynamite). Soon after, the ship was destroyed in two giant blasts, scattering debris, sinking surrounding ships and setting fire to the area, killing thousands of people.
The explosion was so big and loud that it could be felt till Dadar, more than 8 miles away.
As the explosion occurred during World War II, some initially claimed that it was caused by Japanese sabotage, however, it was later revealed that several unintentional omissions, caused due to late and careless unloading of goods, resulted in the fire.
It took almost three days to bring the fire under control while 8000 men tirelessly worked for seven months to remove around 5 lakh tonnes of debris.
While attempting to put out the deadly fire, around 71 firefighters in the city too lost their lives. To remember their sacrifices, citizens of Mumbai erected a Memorial Column at the Fire Brigade Headquarters at Byculla and the Government of India declared 14th April as “Fire Services Day” to be observed nation-wide every year.