• Weird History

The Worst Explosions in History

List RulesMan-made explosions only

This incendiary list of famous explosions compiles the most horrific man-made explosions in world history. From oil refinery disasters to nuclear power plant crises, the worst explosions have collectively killed hundreds of thousands of people. Humankind has a bad habit of blowing things up, whether through testing, attacks, or accidents, and the biggest explosions ever and the most famous explosions in history are all accounted for here and presented in reverse-chronological order.

The worst explosions ever range from the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II to the accidental man-made explosion and nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl. The worst man-made explosions are often disturbingly recent, such as the August 2015 chemical plant explosion in China. The biggest explosions ever also include non-nuclear testing done by the United States, while the biggest historical explosions consist of Soviet tests during the Space Race and many other Cold War shows of explosive might.

The biggest famous explosions have been going on since the early 1900s, with times of global war as hotbeds for the biggest historical explosions. Sometimes they're due to industrial negligence and sometimes they're military exercises, but every entry on this list of the most famous explosions in history is guaranteed to scare you senseless.
  • Father of All Bombs

    Date: September 11, 2007
    Location: Russia

    Cause: Non-Nuclear Testing

    Deaths: 0

    The "Father of All Bombs" (or FOAB) refers to the most powerful non-nuclear air-delivered bomb of all time. Basically, this vacuum bomb packed the destructive power of a nuke without a nuclear reaction. The Russian military successfully tested it out in the fall of 2007, resulting in an explosion with a blast radius of 990 feet.

    Source: Reuters

  • Chernobyl Nuclear Meltdown

    Date: April 26, 1986

    Location: Ukraine

    Cause: Nuclear Accident

    Deaths: 31+

    The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded during a power failure experiment and the inadvertent explosion was the worst nuclear power plant accident ever. Though it directly killed 31 people, 25,000 cases of cancer in the area are attributed to radiation from the accident, and the lasting effects of the radiation unleashed by the blast and meltdown will impact multiple generations.

    Source: CBS News

  • Minor Scale

    Date: June 27, 1985 
    Location: New Mexico

    Cause: Nuclear Test

    Deaths: 0

    In the summer of 1985, the United States Defense Nuclear Energy detonated several thousands of more traditional explosives to see what a tiny nuke explosion would look like. It looked like a fireball that became the largest planned conventional explosion in world history.

    Source: Nuclear Files

  • San Juanico Disaster

    Date: November 19, 1984
    Location: San Juanico, Mexico
    Cause: Liquid Petroleum Leak
    Deaths: 500-600

     A gas leak at a liquid petroleum farm lead to a series of explosions that registered on the Richter Scale, leading to not only an explosive cloud of highly flammable gasses shifting with the wind and setting fire to neighborUS National Library of Medicineing communities, but also blast waves that destroyed nearby houses and communities almost immediately.

    Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine