2021-09-22 11:00:56 1921: Deadly Chemical Works Explosion in Germany
1921: Deadly Chemical Works Explosion in Germany
Debris of all kinds, bricks and stones, shattered beams, twisted steel girders and rails, lay everywhere. Within a two-hundred-yard radius, not a fragmant of a wall remains standing. However, further away from the crater, the wreckage of the works continues to burn, emitting dense yellow fumes and a large amount of ammonia gas.
Rescue teams, firemen, and French soldiers wearing gas masks who were rushed to the disaster site are searching the wreckage and constantly extricating bodies. Only a few of these are identifiable. A large number of the men inside the works were killed, and the search parties found only a few injured survivors. According to one report, the explosion occurred in Laboratory 53, and none of the 800 men in the building survived. Several soldiers from the Army of Occupation are also said to be among those killed in the disaster.
Ruins of a town
The small town of Oppau, close to the works, is a picture of desolation, with approximately one-third of the houses destroyed. The others’ roofs have been ripped off, as if by a hurricane. The death toll in the town was high, and many people were injured. Those who have not been injured are attempting to save their furniture and valuables. There were disturbing scenes in the cemetery, where hundreds of bodies were strewn across the grass.
The magnitude of the explosion was such that its effects were felt across a wide area, causing damage and loss of life in neighboring towns. Roofs were ripped off in Ludwigshafen, and many people were killed or injured. Mannheim, which is several miles from Oppau, had all of its windows shattered, killing one person and injuring more than fifty others. Worms’ windows were also shattered. The explosion was heard as far away as Frankfort, and the shock of the air displacement was felt as far away as Mainz. Telephonic and telegraphic communication was disrupted throughout the district surrounding Oppau, making it difficult to obtain information about the disaster.
Following the first large explosion, a series of smaller ones occurred at regular intervals, and fire, fueled by flammable chemical products, quickly spread throughout the rest of the works. Fire departments were dispatched immediately, as were first-aid teams from Landau, Spire, Neustadt, and Kaiserslautern. The French Army’s medical service also responded quickly and effectively.