Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 91.djvu/757

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��San Salvador's Terrible Quake

In a twinkling of an eye a beautiful, flourishing city became a rubbish heap

By M. Toeplitz

��ON the 7th of June, 1917, seven minutes before seven o'clock, the first indica- tion of the coming catastrophe was felt. Very soon after the first rumbling the mortar crumbled from the walls, chairs and tables started to dance and the electric lights went out. The upper stairs of our hotel crashed down and we were barely able to reach the street. Here I was swept along by a crazed mob bound for the park. People fell on their knees and prayed aloud for mercy.

Houses collapsed on all sides like paper boxes and the ground undulated like the sea. The statue of Victory on the Plaza was twisted about oddly, while the shocks increased in strength and frequency. The church towers of the Cathedral seemed to be shaken by a gigantic hand and the huge cross of the right steeple crashed down, shattering the stone saints below. All the bells clanged un- cannily.

Of all high edifices the concrete building of the Teatro Colon alone remained un- scathed. From the Plazuella del Teatro opposite the Teatro Nacional there was a wonderful view of the volcano. The last shock had ripped open the mountain side, and the sky had turned scarlet. At the same time the acids in the Phar- macia de la Cruz Roja exploded, and soon the entire sec- tion was a sea of flames.

Towards 1 1 o'clock it began to rain ashes, first in a fine shower and then in a thick downpour so that walking was most difficult. Half

���The Statue of Victory in a very Pisa-like attitude

��an hour later real rain fell, and everything

became covered with a horrible sticky mud.

During the 8th and 9th of June the

population suffered

���For many miles the railroad tracks were covered with lava, thus completely shut- ting off the city from the rest of the world

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��greatly from lack of food and water. The shocks continued and terrible thunder- storms broke loose. Torrents of water entered the cracks in the broken walls and finished the destruc- tion.

The Government took charge from the first and deserves great praise for promptness and ef- ficiency. Martial law was declared and in a short time perfect order was restored.

For many miles the railroad tracks to Ajacuntal were cov- ered with lava so that traffic was blocked for many weeks.

Thousands left the city, but many camped on the ruins.

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