While investigators scanned the hulk of the oil tanker BIDWELL,
which blew up at Marcus Hook early yesterday,
the death toll today was placed at eighteen with one missing
and a woman and three men battling for their lives in Chester Hospital.
The boat was shattered by four terrific blasts while lying in dock at Marcus Hook.
Questioning of injured survivors, failed today to explain the tragedy.
Most of the crew were asleep or on shore leave when the blasts tore open one side of the ship.
The death list may mount today. OLAF RASMUSSEN, 32, of Forest City, Ia.,
is believed dying of his burns and injuries at the Chester Hospital, Chester.
Others in the hospital, less seriously injured, are MRS. VIOLA RIVERS, of Jamaica, N.Y., wife of the captain;
LERO McMAHON, 27, of Fostoria, Tex., and WILLIAM MAJOR, of Chester.
Twelve dead were counted at the Chester morgue,
and others were given up for lost and their names added to the gruesome list.
After a systematic search of the hold of the steamship BIDWELL
for four missing members of the tank cleaning gang proved futile,
it is now believed the bodies of the men were burled into the river and drowned.
Searching parties have been engaged by the Sun Oil Company to watch and grapple for the bodies.
It is said by experienced rivermen that, owing to the cold weather,
it may be some time before the bodies come to the surface.
As searchers finally were able to board the ship which for hours had been a raging inferno,
bodies of men charred beyond recognition were found.
Still more bodies, blown into shapeless masses, were located aboard the ship of death.
More victims, injured beyond recovery, died at hospitals.
Sun Oil Company officials are at a loss to account for the cause of the blasts.
In an effort to solve the mystery surrounding the origin of the first blast,
which ignited the ship and led to the other explosions,
a minute examination of the charred and warped debris of the steel vessel is now in progress.
As the toll kept mounting hourly, officials still were unable to determine
what mischance had set off the first devastating explosion at 12:20 a.m.
That first blast, which turned what had been an ordinary boat into a scene of horror,
was followed by three other blasts within twenty-five minutes.
The countryside within a radius of twenty miles had been shaken and rocked.
Thousands of sleeping persons were awakened and terrified.
It "might have been" a spark which set off a gas pocket in the hold of the ship
while the tanks were being cleaned of the residue of crude oil
-- which had been brought from Texas and unloaded Tuesday -- so
that gasoline could be put into them, some investigators said.