The first decade of the twentieth century found our planet in an extremely unstable condition. The San Francisco earthquake of 1906, its horrors compounded by ensuing fires, is the most obvious example, but in the years between 1902 and 1908 earthquakes claimed thousands of victims around the world.

The loss of three hundred lives in 1902 in Mexico City, although certainly a high enough number, was merely a prelude. 1905 saw two major quakes. One in April, centered in Khamarsia, India, affecting an area of over a million square miles, killed close to 370,000 people. On September 8th, while much of the world was fascinated by a solar eclipse, an earthquake in Italy destroyed 25 villages and permanently eclipsed thousands of lives.

The Chilean cities of Santiago and Valparaiso were struck by quakes in 1906 that killed 5,000 people and caused property damage to the tune of $350,000,000.

In 1907 hundreds were killed in Kingston, Jamaica. As in San Francisco, fires added to the devastation and casualties. Mexico was again a target this year as a March 14th quake caused severe damage to Acapulco.

On December 27, 1908, in Nyack, New York, followers of doomsday prophet Lee J. Spangler climbed to the top of Hook Mountain to awaiting the prophesied destruction of the world. On that same date, on the other side of the globe, it must surely have seemed to be so. Major quakes struck Sicily and the mainland, snuffing out 85,000 lives. Another 83,000 died the following day as 7.5 quakes struck in the same region, around the Straits of Messina. The city of Messina itself was leveled, its population of 85,000 annihilated.

Early the following year the Italian community here in Rochester, collected $8,000 - a lot of money in those days - for a relief fund to aid the victims back in their homeland, shipping nearly three tons of relief supplies to their stricken countrymen.

For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor.

© 1997 David Minor / Eagles Byte