August 7

This Day in History

Disaster

Aug 7, 1956:

Mysterious explosions in Colombia

Seven army ammunition trucks explode in Cali, Colombia, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring thousands more on this day in 1956. The cause of the explosions remains a mystery.

The previous day, 20 trucks fully loaded with dynamite departed the Colombian city of Buenaventura. The trucks stopped in Cali and then 13 of the trucks headed toward Bogota, Colombia's capital city. The remaining seven were headed to other destinations and were parked in downtown Cali overnight.

Just after midnight, all seven trucks suddenly exploded in a quick chain reaction. A nearby rail station was demolished, as was an army barracks. Five hundred soldiers in the barracks lost their lives in an instant. A three-block area of the densely populated city was absolutely razed. Virtually every window within several miles shattered. The trucks themselves were obliterated and a large crater was left in the ground. The heavy bronze doors of St. Paul's Cathedral, more than 10 blocks away, were blown right off the church.

The president of Colombia, General Gustavo Pinilla, publicly charged that terrorists were to blame for the disaster, but no evidence was ever found that the explosion was deliberate.

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