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1902 Mount Pelee

1902 Mount Pelee

1902 Mount Pelee

Total costsN/A
Deaths 30000


The 1902 eruption of Mount Pelée was a volcanic eruption on the island of Martinique in the Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc of the eastern Caribbean, which was one of the deadliest eruptions in recorded history. Eruptive activity began on 23 April as a series of phreatic explosions from the summit of Mount Pelée. Within days, the vigor of the explosions exceeded anything witnessed since the island was settled by Europeans. The intensity then subsided for a few days until early May, when the explosions increased again. Lightning laced the eruption clouds and trade winds dumped ash on villages to the west. Heavy ash fall at times caused total darkness. Some of the afflicted residents panicked and headed for the perceived safety of larger settlements, especially Saint-Pierre, about 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Pelée's summit. Saint-Pierre received its first ash fall on 3 May.Mount Pelée remained relatively quiet until the afternoon of 5 May when a mudflow swept down a river on the southwest flank of the volcano, destroying a sugar mill. The massive flow buried about 150 people and generated a series of three tsunamis as it hit the sea. The tsunamis swept along the coast, damaging buildings and boats. The explosions resumed the night of 5 May. The following morning, parts of the eruption plume became incandescent, signifying that the character of the eruption had changed. The phreatic explosions had finally given way to magmatic explosions as magma reached the surface. The explosions continued through the next day and night.A brief lull was shattered by a tremendous explosion at about 8:00 a.m. on 8 May. A ground-hugging cloud of incandescent lava particles suspended by searing turbulent gases moved at hurricane speed down the southwest flank of the volcano, reaching Saint-Pierre at 8:02 a.m. Escape from the city was virtually impossible. Almost everyone within the city proper—about 28,000 people—died, burned or buried by falling masonry. The hot ash ignited a firestorm, fueled by smashed buildings and countless casks of rum. Only two people survived within the city, along with a few tens of people caught within the margins of the cloud. All survivors were badly burned.Explosive activity on 20 May resulted in another 2,000 deaths as rescuers, engineers and mariners brought supplies to the island. A powerful eruption on 30 August generated a pyroclastic flow that resulted in over 800 people killed. The eruption continued until October 1905.

Source: Wikipedia

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