Natural and Man-Made Disasters


What is the strongest earthquake recorded in an urban area?

It is believed to be a November 1, 1755, earthquake that struck Lisbon, Portugal. The quake may have registered at least 9.0 on the Richter scale and lasted six or seven minutes. The port city was demolished, and more than 60,000 people perished. It was felt as far away as Sweden and generated a giant wave (tsunami) that struck the West Indies in the Caribbean Ocean. The catastrophe in Lisbon generated an intense debate among European philosophers who tried to explain why God destroyed that particular city, then the seat of the Holy Inquisition, during High Mass on All Saints’ Day.


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