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The Earthquake in Spain

Naturevolume 31pages199200 (1885) | Download Citation



AN earthquake of wide extent and unusual violence took place on Christinas night in the southern provinces of Spain and in the neighbourhood of Madrid. The accompanying map may give some idea of its extent. As many of the towns and villages of Granada, Malaga, and Andalusia are unconnected with the capital by telegraph, the full extent of the damage is not yet known, but enough information has been received to mark the present as among, the most destructive earthquakes of recent years. No precise observations as to time or direction have yet reached this country; and the officials at the Madrid Meteorological Observatory are reported to have made no observations at all, for there were no funds to purchase instruments for such a purpose. Madrid itself was within the disturbed area, but it was probably on its extreme north edge, for the effects of the shocks there were slight, and were- confined to the rattling of windows, the ringing of bells, and the like. But in the three southern provinces the destruction was great and widespread, involving in many cases considerable loss of life. There were several shocks, overthrowing whole villages and burying the inhabitants in the ruins. In Arenas del Rey 40 persons were killed, in Albuequeros 150, in Olivar 10, and in Cajar 12, and similar numbers in many of the towns and villages of the three provinces. The number of killed on the whole is put down in Madrid, from the reports of the local officials, at more than 1000. Even in large cities such as Granada, Malaga, Jaen, and Seville great damage was done, and much excitement prevailed. The inhabitants encamped in the open air through fear of fresh shocks. At Granada the front of the Cathedral was seriously injured, but the Alhambra was untouched. There is much discrepancy in the reports as to the duration of the earthquake: some village authorities have reported ten distinct shocks, while in other cases it is stated that there were seismic disturbances intermittently on the 26th, 2yth, and 28th, the three days succeeding the great earthquake. This is especially reported from Jaen, where there should be ample means of corroborating the statement. At Cadiz a panic occured in the theatre; in Malaga the Cervantes Theatre was much injured. It is noticeable that a sharp fall of the barometer was noticed all over the south of Spain in the afternoon before the earthquake, and that there have since been frequent fluctuations. There is some doubt whether the number of persons who have lost their lives will not far exceed a thousand, inasmuch as the reports, as they grow more detailed, instead of diminishing, largely increase the original estimates. At Periana, in Malaga, a landslip on a mountain in the neighbourhood destroyed a church and 750 houses, from the ruins of which the dead and injured were being taken: similarly at Loja half the houses were overwhelmed. The town of Alhama in Andalusia is reported to have been completely destroyed, with 300 persons. A report is published with regard to Albunuelas, stating that 900 persons are believed to have been killed under the houses thrown down by the earthquake. This would be about one-half the population of the town. At Antequera the shocks have left three churches in a dangerous condition, and the inhabitants are camping in the fields; the Cathedral at Seville, especially the Giralda tower, is much damaged; at Granada the richer classes are living in their carriages, which are stationed on the public promenade.; the others camp out in the squares and open spaces; at Cordova the inabitants are flying from the town. The loss in the town of Malaga is put down at 100,000l., 227 buildings being injured. It would appear that five distinct shocks took place in this town on Christmas night, and three on the following morning. Five shocks on Friday and Saturday are reported from Antequera, and nine from Archidona. That the disturbance has not yet ceased is shown by the report from Torrox that the shocks were renewed there on the morning of the 29th, shaking the foundation of the Town Hall, and causing1 cracks in the walls of other houses; while other violent shocks are reported from Malaga and Granada on the evening of the 3oth, one at 7 and the other at 10 o'clock. In connection with these after-shocks, a report from Tarvis, in Carinthia, states that an earthquake was felt there on Sunday, which by the oscillation it caused cracked the walls of many houses. The Spanish earthquake was not felt in the north and north-western provinces. No precise information as to the times of the shocks at the various places has been received. At Xerez and Cadiz, according to one account, the first smart shocks occurred shortly before 9 o'clock, and other slighter shocks about midnight and 4 o'clock the next morning. At Ciudad Real no damage appears to have been done, beyond the alarm to the inhabitants, who passed the night in the open, fearing a recurrence of the shocks. At Velez Malaga and Malaga proper several shocks injured the theatre and the churches, the falling masonry killing several persons. The clocks are stated to have stopped in various parts of Andalusia at from ten to seven minutes before nine, which may therefore be taken as the time of the first shock.

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  1. Quintana, 26, Madrid

    • F. GILLMAN
  2. The Rookery, Ramsbury, Wilts



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