Claim: A freighter carrying tapioca nearly sank when a fire in its hold (and the water used to extinguish it) cooked the cargo.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2006]
Origins: At first blush, a story about a ship's nearly sinking in harbor because a fire in its hold cooked its cargo of tapioca (thereby bursting the ship's sides) sounds like a follow-up to the old
In August 1972, stacked timber that the Swiss freighter Cassarate was carrying in
"It's like a huge tapioca time bomb," said an incredulous fire chief today as he watched the smoldering
Fireman earlier controlled the fire which started in timber stacked in the upper holds
But the water from the Cardiff hoses seeped down to the lower holds where
The water swelled the tapioca and the heat from the flames started to cook the sticky mess.
The swelling tapioca — enough to serve a million
"It's got to burst somewhere," one said. "It will take dockers a couple of days to clear the smoldering lumber before we can reach the tapioca."
The plan is to load the gluey mess onto a fleet of trucks and dispose of it. One report said there was enough to fill
But where do you dump 500 truckloads of tapioca pudding?
The atmosphere in Cardiff docks was a bit starchy as 1,500 tons of the stuff cooled down after threatening to burst open a blazing freighter.
A spokesman for the South Wales Fire Service said the blaze on board the 15,000-ton Swiss-registered Cassarate had been stamped out. Timber and rubber in the cargo destined for Britain had been damaged but unloaded.
But what about the tapioca?
"Well," the spokesman said, "it seems to have subsided but we don't know what condition it is in. It is bound for Rotterdam and the Dutch will have to decide whether it can still be used or scrapped."
The Cassarate caught fire [five days ago]. Firemen fought the blaze for three days, pumping thousands of gallons into the ship's holds. The water got to the tapioca and the ship turned into a gigantic steam oven.
As the glutinous mass swelled, one fire chief likened it to "a huge tapioca time bomb" that was about to tear the ship apart. The Cassarate was reported damaged yesterday but preparing to sail for Rotterdam.
Cardiff port authorities said it would have taken
Associated Press. "Pudding Perils Vessel." Chicago Tribune. 15 September 1972 (p. 3). Associated Press. "Tapioca Time Bomb Defused." Oakland Tribune. 16 September 1972 (p. E3).