San Diego, CA Gunboat BENNINGTON Explosion, Jul 1905
TERRIBLE SCENES IN WAKE OF EXPLOSION.
DISASTER ON GUNBOAT BENNINGTON ONE OF THE WORST IN THE HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN NAVY.
San Diego, Cal., July 22. -- The terrible disaster to the gunboat Bennington, which occurred shortly before noon yesterday, came without a moment's warning. Steam was up, most of the men were on deck, and everything was inreadiness for immediate sailing, when a deafening road shook the south for miles around.
The outburst was accompanied by a roar as of thunder and a shock that rocked vessels nearby. In an instant the air was filled with shrieks and bellows of pain from the wounded which could be heard ashore, and with flying fragments of human beings and pieces of the ship's superstructure.
The next moment bleeding sailors were fighting, crippled, in the water against death in only a less sudden form than that from which they had escaped, while row boats, sail boats, launches, and tugs were being driven to the rescue as fast as arms, wind and steam could carry them.
Most of the men on board were assembled between decks, above the boilers, when the explosion occurred. Here is where the most frightful slaughter took place. No one living has been able to describe what happened there, but vivid witnesses exist, in the blood smeared walls. It is from between decks that most of the dead bodies have been taken.
Human Fragments Blown in Air.
A dozen or fifteen were blown overboard by the force of the terrific explosion. Captain Wentworth, who was looking at the Bennington when the disaster occurred, says he saw human bodies hurled over a hundred feet upward.
The air was black with the smoke which enveloped the ship. When it cleared away only a few men could be seen on the decks while a number were floundering in the water. A boat was lowered from the vessel's side and most of them were picked up and taken on board.
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