4 March 1960

The French ship La Coubre explodes in Havana, Cuba. Over 100 are killed.

The French freighter La Coubre exploded in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, on 4 March 1960 while it was unloading 76 tons of munitions. Casualties may have been as high as 100, and many more were injured. Fidel Castro charged it was an act of sabotage on the part of the United States, which denied any involvement.

Unloading explosive ordnance directly onto the dock in Havana was against port regulations. Ships with such cargoes were supposed to be moored in the center of the harbor and their high-risk cargo unloaded onto lighters.[1] La Coubre, a 4,310-ton French vessel, was unloading her cargo of 76 tons of Belgian munitions she had transported from Antwerp to Havana when she exploded at 3:10 pm on 4 March 1960. Thirty minutes after the first explosion, while hundreds of people were involved in a rescue operation organized by the Cuban military, a second, more powerful explosion resulted in additional fatalities and injuries.

At the time of the explosion, Che Guevara was in a meeting at the National Institute of Agrarian Reform headquarters. He drove to the scene and spent the next few hours giving medical attention to the crew members, armed forces personnel, and dock workers who had been injured. The death toll was between 75 and 100; more than 200 people injured.