Remembering a tragedy

The day it rained gold and death in Bombay: Rare footage of the 1944 dock explosion

Approximately 800 people died when the Fort Stikine exploded in the city docks 70 years ago. April 14 is still observed as Fire Brigade Day in the city.

On the  afternoon of April 14, 1944, as World War II raged in the far corners of the planet, Mumbai was convulsed by two enormous explosions that sent a deadly shower of fiery metal and gold ingots hurtling down upon the city. An estimated 800 people were killed in the blasts, 231 of them from the dock services and fire brigade.

The explosion occurred on board a British freighter called the Fort Stikine, which had arrived at the docks from Karachi two days earlier. Her cargo was a lethal combination of wartime munitions and peacetime supplies: 1,395 tons of explosives, torpedoes, mines and shells shared the hold with bales of cotton, barrels of oil and timber. The Stikine was also carrying  £890,000 of gold bullion in bars in 31 crates.

It isn’t clear what caused a fire to break out on the Stikine, but it spread quickly. Two explosions followed. They were heard far across the suburbs and sensors recorded the tremors as far as Shimla. Thirteen ships around the Stikine were destroyed, as were hundreds of homes in the vicinity of the docks. The Bombay Dock Explosion would be the most powerful blast in the eastern theatre of war, until the Americans dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima.

The tragedy would remain in the memories of residents for decades, and April 14 is still observed as Fire Brigade Day in the city.  Every now and then, dredging operations in Mumbai harbour still yield shells and gold bars. 

Here is a rare newsreel of the day.

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.


Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.