TANKER EXPLOSION KILLS 25 OF CREW
PORT ARTHUR, Texas, April 11 (AP)
— Trapped as they slept in their berths,
twenty-five seamen were burned to
death in an explosion of gasoline on
the oil tanker "Gulf of Venezuela" in
the harbor here early today. Eleven
others were injured, eight seriously.
Two members of the crew were missing,
but are believed to be among the
dead. The men met their fate in a cauldron
of boiling gasoline. The tanker was
alongside the dock, where 85,000 barrels
of high-test gasoline had been
pumped into her yesterday as she prepared
to carry the valuable fuel to
Atlantic ports. Hours before the men
had gone to sleep in their quarters aft
and Captain John Charlton of Philadelphia
was asleep in the officers' quarters forward.
The dock and the ship's harbor lay
quiet when the early morning darkness was
rent by an explosion that
could be heard for miles. A pillar of
burning gasoline leaped 100 feet into
the air. The flash was blinding. It
was followed quickly by several minor
In a few seconds several sailors in
flames appeared on deck and jumped
into the water, their bodies going
through the air like flaming rockets.
These men were saved, but they were
badly burned. There were shrieks as
a few of the men struggled for life
within the steel hull that was now
their burning coffin. The ship was a
great steel box of leaping fire and rolling smoke.
The explosion was in the men's quarters.
Captain Charlton, virtually
knocked from his bed. rushed to the
deck in a daze. He saw burning oil
all about him. He attempted to make
his way to the men's quarters, but a
sheet of fire stopped him. With his
night clothing scorched, he stumbled
from the ship to the dock.
There, he found several sailors who
were slightly burned, but still able to
keep their feet. Others were lying injured
on the dock.
Seven members of the ship's crew
of thirty-nine were missing, but it was
believed some were among t h e dead.
A number of dock workers also were
missing. The first explosion, which was
followed by several minor ones, rocked
the city and brought hundreds from
their beds into the streets before
Twenty-two of the dead are unidentified
The bodies were so badly mangled
by the explosion that identification
was virtually impossible and there
was fear that the loss of life would
be much greater, as dock workers and
pipe-fitters were at work on or near
the vessel at the time and it was
difficult to check the missing.
Several bodies were hurled into the
air with debris and bits of wreckage
from the ship at the impact of the
blast. A lifeboat from the top of the
tanker was blown several hundred feet
into the air, landing atop a warehouse
April 12, 1926 edition of "The New York Times"