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Catastrophe in the Caribbean

On May 8, 1902, the city of St. Pierre on the tiny island of Martinique was immolated when stratovolcano Mount Pelée erupted, spewing superheated gas, rock, and ash. Within minutes, town hall, the cathedral church, the shrine at Morne Rouge, the chamber of commerce, and the botanical gardens were utterly destroyed — and 28,000 people were dead. The report in Harper’s Weekly stated, “The horrible tragedy exceeds anything of the kind that has happened since Pompeii.”

Through August 29, “Natural Disasters of the Caribbean” at HistoryMiami presents photographs, etchings, maps, stereographs, and newspaper clippings that document the region’s most devastating volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes, waterspouts, and tsunamis. From the flows of Mount Pelée and La Soufrière to the great Puerto Rican hurricane of 1899 to St. Thomas’s 1867 tsunami, none was more terrible than the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that killed 280,000. And that’s the shocking recent chapter in this history: The Caribbean’s worst catastrophe occurred only six months ago.
Thu., Aug. 5, 10 a.m., 2010


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