Friday, April 15, 2005

Fire Safety Week

Fire Safety Week is observed all over India from April 14 - 20 every year. I got to know through the compnay website that Mumbai(then Bombay) had a major fire on April 14th 1944. That is the reason for this safety week to be observed during this period.
I read about the incident on this site. The accident is stunning. I write a gist of the explanation given in the site.

It was 2nd world war time and a Bristish ship carrying tons of weapons and ammunitions had come to Bombay port. It had loads of gold bars too. The Indian ruppee value was low fearing Japanese invasion. To boost the ruppe value, Bristish had sent gold bars. At around 12pm crew of neighbouring ships saw smoke coming out of this ship, but ignored thinking that the crew would take action. By 2:45 pm, fire fighters were on the ship to extinguish the fires. But the fire and smoke was too strong. The heat radiation from the ship was so high that the dock yard shed was set ablaze. Fire fighters decided to get the weapons out but finally they decided that it was difficult and abonded the ship. Some brave guys still stood there. The fire showed no mercy and by 4pm the ship exploded. The article says
"Molten metals and lethal debris killed the crew still on their posts. Blazing cotton bales, flaring oil drums, blobs of melting metal flew up, showering down over a vast area killing and maiming old and young, starting numerous fires in sheds and ships in the Docks. The shock waves generated by the explosion were so powerful that the Meteorological seismograph at Simla, more than a thousand miles away registered it. The explosion was so loud that windows rattled and shattered as far away as Dadar, a distance of 8 miles. Buildings shook as if in an earthquake. About 300 acres of the dock was devastated and 12 other ships in the vicinity perished!"

By 4:40pm there was another explosion which ripped apart the remaining part of the ship. The article describes the blast in this way -
"The force generated by the second blast started a tidal wave that lifted the 400 feet, 4000 ton S.S.Jalpadma clear off the water 50 feet high and slammed her down. On that fateful Friday there were 23 ships berthed in Victoria and Prince's docks, only six remained after the disaster struck."
This is something like a tsunami.

Gold bars were thrown all over the Mumbai.
"Almost all of the other gold bars were subsequently recovered from different parts of the city; the last ones to be found were hauled up from the bottom of the sea in the docks."
Bars were found even in 1970 and this was returned to British government.

No comments: