TORONTO, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 – Even though the Halifax disaster happened 100 year ago, it still has direct effects on the people of Halifax, the descendants of the those who were alive at the time, and the city itself, says York U disaster and emergency management expert Jack Rozdilsky.
Dec. 6 marks the 100th anniversary of the Halifax explosion, Canada’s most deadly disaster in history and the largest man-made explosion on the planet, not including the first atomic bomb detonation in 1945. Sparked when the Imo, a Belgian relief ship, and the Mont-Blanc, a French munitions ship collided, resulting in everything within one kilometre being levelled – about 1,600 structures.
“What people often don’t remember about the disaster is that Halifax was hit by a blizzard that same night complicating rescue efforts and adding to people’s misery,” said Rozdilsky of York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.
Some 1,600 people were killed instantly, while the final death toll surpassed 2,500. About 9,000 were injured, most from flying glass and debris, and about 6,000 were left homeless. Another 19,000 were left with inadequate shelter.
Rozdilsky, an associate professor who teaches a disaster case study course at York U and studies disaster memorialization and commemoration, can discuss the following:
- How the impacts of the Halifax disaster are still tangibly being felt 100 years later
- The importance of acknowledging disaster anniversaries
- How the Halifax disaster laid the foundation for the academic study of disasters and best practices going forward
- Why the Halifax disaster is still considered Canada’s worst disaster
- The basic facts and scale of the disaster
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