Montreal, QB Apartment Building Explosion, Mar 1965
EXPLOSION KILLS 26 IN MONTREAL.
SUBURBAN APARTMENT DESTROYED.
Montreal (UPI) -- Twenty-six residents were killed and 37 injured Monday when a natural gas explosion blasted a 40-unit, three-story apartment building into a mass of burning, twisted rubble.
Officials said shortly before 9 p.m. EST that five persons still were missing.
The blast lifted half the building and hurled it 50 yards from its foundation.
Men, women and children were blown from their beds and breakfast tables when the explosion erupted in the low-rent housing development where the house was located. Many of them were buried alive under flaming timbers and other burning rubble.
Quebec Deputy Fire Commissioner F. X. PERRAULT, who flew to Montreal from Quebec City, said, "It's very likely that a natural gas leak could have caused the explosion."
Bodies were laid on the ice of a nearby hockey rink turned into a temporary morgue.
One badly burned young boy was pulled out of the wreckage and doctors promptly pronounced him dead. But a policeman refused to believe it and with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation revived the youngster.
The blast wrecked the three-story apartment house at 8:12 a.m. EST.
"It looked like the London blitz," one of the rescue officials said.
Quebec Premier JEAN LESAGE and Atty. Gen. CLAUDE WAGNER rushed to the scene to help with rescue work and determine the cause of what was termed this capital province's worst disaster.
Officials said they had not yet determined the explosion's cause. But residents reported they noticed "the heavy sweet taste and smell" of natural gas before the explosion.
The explosion started fires that swept three adjacent buildings and turned a four-block section of the Ville la Salte suburb into a shambles.
The fires sent hundreds of persons fleeing in their night clothes into the frigid Canadian morning. Fathers, who left for work a short time before rushed back to search for their families.
Women stood silently around the tangled timbers and bricks awaiting word of their families.
"I didn't realize it was such a disaster until I saw with my own eyes what I see now," said Premier LESAGE.
"We're going to see that nobody suffers more than they already have," he said.
Factory workers, civil defense workers, and nearby military units answered the urgent calls for help which crackled out over Montreal radio stations.
High schools in the area released their students so they could donate blood and help with the rescue work.