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Great Catastrophes of History.

In China, where some of the greatest rivers in the world flow between artificial banks at an elevation considerably above the surrounding country, there have been overflows that caused the destruction of hundreds of thousands of lives. There have been similar disasters in Jndia, where, us in China, the rivers have made beds for themselves with alluvial banks higher than the plains across which they flowed. But aside from these fatal cataclysms, of which history and tradition recall but a few, there has not been within historic periods any disaster by water which caused so great a loss of life as that in Western Pennsylvania. It is now certain that no fewer than 10,000 or 12,000 and possibly 20,000 lives were destroyed. [Later estimates, as facts have matured, place the loss of life at hardly more than 5,000.] No such catastrophe ever occurred in this country, if we except the greatest battle of the Civil War. The destruction of property also is immense—greater probably than that caused by the Chicago fire. There is no parallel to the immense destruction of life and property at Johnstown and in the vicinity, except in the earthquakes of the world, that have buried whole cities, and caused! the earth to open and swallow the inhabitants of entire areas of country. [The writer overlooks the breaking of the dykes in Holland in 1530, when 400,000 people were drowned.] The earthquakes that occurred before the Christian Era are described in general terms as destroying cities and depopulating entire countries, but no estimate of the loss of life is given. Such is also the case in regard to earthquakes which occurred after the Christian Era, until the twelfth century. There is no earthquake record anterior to 425 8.C., and but half a dozen earthquakes are recorded before that of a.d. 79, which buiied Pompeii and Herculaneitm, but there is no statement of the loss of life by that event. In a.d. 543 there was an earthquake felt by the whole world. Great earthquakes in Asia in a.d. 742, the loss of life "Burpassing all calculation." The earthquake rn which approximate estimates of the loss of life exceed 5,000 or 6,000 we given as follows: Places. Lives tost. A.D. CintUDla, Sicily > 15,000 1137 Cllicla .. .. .. .. 60,000 1268 Nftfleß .. .. .. .. 40,000 1456 Lisbon .. .. .. 30.0W 1631 Naples .. .. .. .. 70.000 1628 Sohaniakl, Russia .. .. 80.000 1667 Sicily ..• ' .. .. .. 10O.C00 1003 Jeddo, Japan .. .. ..200,000 1703 Abruzzi, Italy 15,000 1706 Algiers .'. .. '.. .. 20,000 1716 China, inolndinfc Pokln ». .. 100,000 1731 Lima and Callao, Peru .. 18,000 1746 Grand Carlo 40,000 1762 Ka«cban, Persia .. .. .. 40,000 1766 Lisbon .. ... .. .. 40,000 1765 Syria .. .. .. .. 20,000 1769 Mexico .. .. .. 40,000 1797 Aleppo. Turkey .. .. _ 20.000 1882 Siuthltaly 14,000 1851 Peru and Ecuador .. .. 25,000 1868 Java 160,000 1882 There have been many earthquakes within the period covered by these dates that have spread over vast extents of the earth's surface and caused immense losses of life, but estimates as to the' number are not given. One instance shows haw the human race has been depleted from thia cause. In the Kingdom of Naples, from 1783 to 1857, a period of seventy-five years, the loss of life by earthquakes was 110,000, or at therateof more than 1,500 a year, out of a population of 6,000,000. The country surrounding the Mediterranean and the inter-tropical area from which the American Cordilleras spring may be regarded as the centres of earthquake activity,'though some of the greatest earthquakes of all time have occurred in Eastern Asia and the East Indies— Chicago Journal. •

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Great Catastrophes of History., Evening Star, Issue 8028, 3 October 1889

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Great Catastrophes of History. Evening Star, Issue 8028, 3 October 1889