Sorting out my Allied occupation of Germany stamps I came across these two stamps from the French Zone of the Rhineland Palitinate and wondered what they were about. A little research came up with them being issued for aid funding for victims of a chemical explosion in 1921 - some 27 years prior to their issue. Guess what - it was the same chemical that went BOOM in a big way in Beirut on August 4 with devastating results. Wikipedia has an interesting article on this event - all due to human error!
Tragic events such as these need not happen if lessons are learnt from the past and human stupidity was somehow removed.
The Beirut disaster was preceded by a large fire at the Port, on the city's northern Mediterranean coast. In videos posted on social media white smoke could be seen billowing from Warehouse 12, next to the port's huge grain silos.
Shortly after 18:00 (15:00 GMT), the roof of the warehouse caught alight and there was a large initial explosion, followed by a series of smaller blasts that some witnesses said sounded like fireworks going off.
About 30 seconds later, there was a colossal explosion that sent a mushroom cloud into the air and a supersonic blastwave radiating through the city.
The Ludwigshafen explosion occurred on September 21, 1921, when a silo that was storing 4,500 tonnes of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate fertilizer mixture exploded at the Oppau plant in Germany. It killed between 500 – 600 people and there were about 2,000+ people who were injured. The blast was felt for miles, damaging the factory and the surrounding community.
In 1911 the plant was producing ammonium sulfate when Germany was unable to obtain the necessary sulfur during WWI. It was also producing ammonium nitrate during the same time period. The combination of the two plus the pressure of its own weight turned the mixture into a plaster-like substance.
The workers had to take pickaxes to remove the plaster-like substance from inside the silos. To make their work easier the workers took small charges of dynamite to loosen the mixture. It is now a well-known fact that ammonium nitrate is highly explosive even when mixed, due to this tragic incident.