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The explosion occurred at 7.30 in the morning. All the telephones and telegraphs in the district were destroyed and much damage was done. Apparently there was some loss of life in Ludwigshafen, on the left bank of the Rhine opposite Mannheim, though details are most difficult to get. Reports suggest that the village of Oppau was completely destroyed. The inhabitants who were not killed or desperately injured are panic-stricken with the horror of the disaster and fear a further explosion.
Dense clouds of smoke were observed over the spot where the works were, but it was impossible to approach.
The Daily Telegraph's Berlin correspondent states that the explosion occurred at the Badische soda factories, where nitrogen compounds are manufactured for agricultural purposes.
Terrific detonations in rapid succession startled the district, which is thickly populated. The earth shook violently, houses were unroofed.
Masses of metal weighing 100 kilograms were thrown 100 yards. The detonations were felt at Heidelberg, and windows were broken in Frankfurt, 37 miles distant, where the electric trains were interrupted.
Efforts to promote employment
It is now clear that within a few days a special local effort will be made to relieve the most severe cases of unemployment in the city. The action of the city council in voting £1000 towards the local fund places the effort on a definite footing, and it is expected that this sum will be considerably augmented by assistance from the Government and by the aid of private citizens. It is proposed that the fund shall be administered by a representatives committee, and on this body will rest the responsibility of seeing that the money is wisely and judiciously expended. Experience has almost invariably shown that work such as is contemplated is comparatively costly, but any excess in this respect should be curbed.
Success in a public appeal depends on reasonable compliance with the wishes of the subscribers, and nothing will so quickly dry up the sources of help as an exhibition of waste on the part of the administrators or the practice of indolence by those who are employed.
Sympathy and assistance should be forthcoming for all who genuinely desire employment, and in order to protect the interests of that class, it will be necessary to institute a register and adopt some method of classification.
The actual number of genuine unemployed must be ascertained as early as possible, and where employment is available in the country single men should be sent.
This will to some extent relieve the congestion in the city, and enable married men to retain their homes.
The parents of children attending a school not a hundred miles from Napier recently received the term reports. One parent discovered that his child had gained very poor marks in spelling. He is now thinking very hard, for in the next column under the heading remarks the teacher referred to the result as “Very week.”
- ODT, 23.9.1921.