Dead and injured
|One of the survivors, Mr Tom Betts. © NMM|
73 people died as a result of the Silvertown explosion. More than 400 were injured, 94 of them seriously. One of the injured was a fireman called Tom Betts.
He was buried by rubble as the fire station collapsed, but was rescued by men from the Royal Army Medical Corps.
|Professor Angel, the Chief Chemist at the plant. © NMM|
Some of those who lost their lives were fighting the first fire at the time of the blast. These included Andreas Angel, the chief chemist at the plant. He was a professor from Oxford doing voluntary war-work at Brunner-Mond.
Angel was posthumously awarded the Edward Medal, one of Britain's highest awards for gallantry.
|Station Officer S. Betts and Fireman Yabsley. © NMM|
Two firemen from the wrecked Silvertown Fire Station also died as they were laying hoses and getting ready to tackle the blaze. Station Officer S. Betts and Fireman Yabsley had carried out their fire-fighting duties even though they knew that an explosion was likely at any moment.
The casualty list also included:
- a police constable, George Greenhoff
- workers from the Port of London Authority
- workers from local factories.
Fireman Sell was killed in the blast and his daughter Winifred also died in the disaster.
|Fireman Sell, who was killed in the Silvertown explosion. © NMM|
Winifred was one of many children who had been in their beds and stood little chance of escape as homes collapsed and debris rained from the skies.
One man lost his wife and four children aged between 10 and 13. There were many such distressing tales.
A lucky escape for some
Many more people would have been killed if the explosion had happened a few hours earlier when the plant and the surrounding factories were full of workers. As it was, most of them had left for home at the end of the working week.
|Children left homeless by the Silvertown explosion. © NMM|
Also, many people who lived close to the factory, knowing what was produced there, left their homes as soon as they saw the first signs of a fire at the plant. Hundreds of them were left homeless, but at least they had escaped with their lives.