Nov 1, 2011

Lisbon Earthquake – revisited

One of the most famous of all earthquakes is the one that destroyed Lisbon, Portugal, on November 1, 1755.

There were actually three earthquakes on the same day. The first one was the worst and happened at nine-forty in the morning. The shock lasted about six minutes, and thirty thousand people were killed by the falling buildings. Hundreds of people died in churches where they had gone to attend All Saint’s Day mass.

Every large public building was destroyed, as well as twelve thousand private homes. The shock of the quake was felt at least seven hundred miles away. The earthquakes caused the formation of new lakes as far away as Norway and Sweden.

Those people who were not killed by the falling buildings ran out into the streets, gathering in parks and along the riverside. Then large tidal waves, twenty feet high, swept over the city and drowned many more. Following that, a fire broke out that lasted for six days and destroyed what was left of the city. Some sources estimate that altogether sixty thousand people died that day.

People thought the world was coming to end, but the Lisbon disaster was just the beginning of many terrible earthquakes that would fallow. Sixty thousand people perished in an earthquake in Italy in 1783, and more than seventy-five thousand died in that country in 1908. A quake in China in 1915 claimed the lives of 180,000 and five years later 143,000 died in the Tokyo area of Japan. Other severe earthquakes have since occurred in Peru, Iran, Chile, Ecuador, New Zealand (Canterbury) 2010-2011, Haiti 2010 over 316,000 died, and many other places. And the latest great earthquake disaster this year happened in Japan was over 25,000 people died.

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