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On This Day… The 1812 Caracas Earthquake

Written by: George Chittenden : 09 Jul 2019

It was on this day, 26th March, back in 1812 when an earthquake shook Caracas in Venezuela with devastating effect. It happened at around 4pm, local time and measured 7.7 on the Richter scale. According to reports, buildings were swallowed by the earth.

The seismic activity was so extreme that in an area named Valecillo, a new lake was formed and the river Yurubí was dammed up. The earthquake forced countless streams in the valley of Caracas to change their course, flooding the area with dirty water. Within thirty minutes another earthquake hit Venezuela, but this time it was the city of Mérida, and it virtually destroyed it.

Records suggest that between 15,000–20,000 people died because of the two quakes. In the aftermath fresh problems arose, due to the lack of available food, disease from the bodies of the dead and the collapse of infrastructure, crime flourished.

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