§732 The Messina-Reggio Earthquake of December 28, 1908: IX-61.

IX-61 (§732):

The pillage done to the marine coast,
And relatives brought into Naples
Some of Malta by the fact of Messina,
Being extremely tightened shall be hardly compensated.

(La pille faicte à la coste marine,
In cita nova & parenz amenez
Plusieurs de Malte par le fait de Messine,
Estroit serrez seront mal guerdonnez.

NOTES: The pillage done to the marine coast: « Hundred years ago, on December 28 [Monday], at 5 h 20 m 23 s, an earthquake of magnitude 7, followed by a tsunami, destroyed in 20 s the cities of Messina and Reggio Calabria, causing nearly 100 thousand deaths... The earthquake was recorded at 110 stations worldwide and was followed by a tsunami with a maximum sea-wave height of 12 m at Sant’Alessio on the Calabrian coast, and penetrating there 200 m into the land... Two famous witnesses were the Russian writer Maxim Gorkij and the German geophysicist Wilhelm Meyer, who were at Capri at the moment of the earthquake and arrived in Messina on January 1, 1909. Their accounts provide a realistic and dramatic description of the events... The Czech wood-engraving (xylography) illustration (see Fig. 1) of the effects of the 1908 Messina earthquake comes from a non-identified printed source published in 1909. The title states “Terrible earthquake in southern Italy” while the sub-title given under the image states: “The horror-full night of December 28 in the Messina town. Stormy sea waters flooded the town ruined by the earthquake and definitively destroyed all what yet remained.” There were numerous reports which appeared immediately after the earthquake. The journal Nature published several articles. We provide the following most interesting extracts in italics: … the first intimation of the disturbance was a prolonged, thunderous noise followed by a vivid flash of lightning, and at the same time by a series of violent shocks which seemed interminable. Heavy torrential rain then fell … On Tuesday [December 29], the officer of a torpedo-boat who left Messina for Reggio sent after a few hours the following message: “I cannot see Reggio; if it exists, it is no longer where it was.” (Nature, Vol. 79, No. 2045, December 31, 1908, p. 255)... On January 7, 1909, Nature published records obtained by the Milne seismograph at Kew (UK), 2000 km away. The signal arrived on December 28 at 4 h 23.6 m (GMT) and the maximum amplitude at 4 h 31.1 m. For the first time, the declination magnetograph recorded several distinct burrs (C. Chree, Nature, Vol. 79, No. 2045, January 7, 1909, p. 280). Another article described the events: The earthquake was … as great as either of the celebrated earthquakes in 1783, which caused 40000 deaths in the same districts. ... the nature [of the sea wave] of which is indicated by the narrative of the captain of the Hopewell; according to him, the boat, which was passing through the Straits at the time of the earthquake, seemed to leap into the air, as if a mine had exploded underneath her, and immediately afterwards a mountain of water was heaped up to starboard and rushed furiously towards Messina, while soundings showed that the bed of the sea had risen ten feet … it is of a nature of a gradually increasing strain, leading, in the end, to sudden rupture and the setting free of forces of which we still know little (R. D. O., Nature, Vol. 79, No. 2045, January 7, 1909, p. 287-288). About the Sea wave: A man who was just embarking on a ferry-boat to go from Messina to Reggio when the shock occurred describes how the level of the water seemed suddenly to descend until the ferry touched the bottom, and then rose to a great height again - he says eight yards - hurling the ferry-boat on the landing pier, which smashed it to pieces. About the affected area: At Reggio the destruction seems to be even more complete than at Messina, for the whole of the city has been razed to the ground … The prefect of Reggio states that the centre of the town has settled down to the sea-level... Prof. Rizzo (from the Messina Observatory) noticed that several boats anchored some distance from shore were left high and dry. On the other hand, the ground has sunk in some places in the city, notably near the Municipal Palace and Via Seminario, where in one place it has fallen eleven yards (Nature, Vol. 79, No. 2045, January 7, 1909, p. 288-289). E. Oddone from the Observatory of Messina indicated that the subterranean chamber has escaped harm, and the Vicentini seismograph recorded the event … the earthquake began with a very slight shock, which was repeated. It increased in violence for ten seconds, and then grew less severe for another ten seconds. After these movements ten minutes passed without disturbances. A second shock of much greater intensity, and accompanied by loud subterranean rumbling, followed, and was the cause of the catastrophe (Nature, Vol. 79, No. 2046, January 14, 1909, p. 316)... The Russian and English fleets were at the Strait and went immediately to Messina to provide the first aids and rescue the survivors. The Italian torpedo-boats “Sapfo” and“Piemonte”, who were at the port at the moment of the earthquake, rescued more than 400 people. The Russian writer M. Gorkij (or Gorki) and the German geophysicist M.W. Meyer were living at Capri and arrived in Messina four days after the disaster (Meyer and Gorkij, 1909; Gorkij and Meyer, 2005). As a writer, Gorkij captured the overwhelming dramatism of the event: a huge wave raises in the sky and, covered by a white foam, it bends, crushes and falls towards the shore, wrapping, with its tremendous weight, corpses, buildings and ruins, crushing, drowning and, without breaking against the shore, it spreads and drags with it all that it touches: ships, doors, furniture, women, children, priests, workers, soldiers, students and, finally retreating, it sucks everything towards the sea, launching it over the rocks, killing who is still alive.» (Carcione and Kozák, 2008, p.661-667).

Cita nova: « Ordinarily, the new city (cita nova) is Naples (Neapolis).» (Clébert, 2003, p.1019).

And relatives brought into Naples: « The commander of the Russian cruiser Admiral Makaroff, after it had arrived at Naples with refugees from Messina, gave the following account of the disaster: "Hearing at Agoata, Sicily, of the disaster, I hurried to Messina. The city was literally nothing but a heap of ruins. Every building collapsed, but in many cases the outward shells remained standing and as a result the general contour of the city was less changed than might be expected. "This is particularly true of the sea front. In spite of what has been said, the form of the Straits of Messina show little if any change. "The harbor is filled with refuse of every kind, and at one end lies the wreck of a sunken steamship. "It is impossible to give even a faint idea of the desolation of the scene. Every now and then we heard the crash of falling floors and walls. This constituted the greatest danger to the rescuers. It was not safe to approach any standing masonry. Men from my vessel had many narrow escapes, and I saw several terrible accidents to the brave Italian soldiers, who were doing more than their duty. "We lost no time in setting about the work of rescue. We established an open-air hospital on the shore, where we received and treated 1,000 men, women and children. We also saved the safe of the Bank of Sicily with its treasure, weighing two tons. "The mind shrinks from contemplation of the present condition in the stricken city; that there are thousands of persons still alive in the ruins, and that countless numbers must die. 'The tidal wave lasted much longer than the earthquake. During all the time we were in the harbor of Messina our vessel shivered intermittently, as though shaken by some huge marine monster. "I could relate pathetic stories without number. Under some wreckage, inclosed in a kind of little cubby-hole and protected by two heavy beams, I discovered two little babies, safe and uninjured. They were comfortable as possible, and laughing and playing with the buttons on their clothes. We could find no trace of their parents, who undoubtedly lost their lives. It made a terrible impression to see the bereaved children."» (Mowbray, c1909, p.49-50).

: « guerredoner, v.a., récompenser (to recompense), donner une récompense pour (to reward for).»; « guerredon, s.m., prix d’un service, d’une bonne action (price of a service, of a good action), salaire (salary), récompense (recompense).» (Godefroy).

Some of Malta by the fact of Messina, Being extremely tightened shall be hardly compensated
: These verses seem to express a commercial or economic damage (hardly compensated) upon some of the inhabitants of Malta scarcely suffered immediately from the earthquake itself, due to the collapse of the cities of Messina and Reggio Calabria, the unified center of a large local zone of economy embracing Malta (Being extremely tightened).  

« "Help from the outer world is at last beginning to reach the stricken city. The British armored cruiser Sutler steamed in from Malta and was followed by the Russian battleships Slava and Tsaritsa and the armored cruiser Admiral Makaroff. The officers and men of the two navies gave every possible aid, yet their task is a fearful one. "Under the pelting rain open-air hospitals are being." The garrison in Messina perished in the ruins and persons who survive unhurt cannot escape from the vast smoldering tomb in which their kinsmen, wives, husbands, parents and children lie. The sea is closed to them for want of ships and they are suffering from the cruel extremities of hunger and thirst. "Here and there they can be seen searching eagerly for some morsels to eat or water to drink, but the heaps of dust and debris yield them nothing. At every turn some lamentable scene meets the eye, men and women half naked and terribly injured imploring relief. " The hospital and chemists shops have disappeared and there are neither drugs nor surgical instruments. The Government officials from Catania are doing their utmost. The Catania fire brigade also arrived and is working with the Russian sailors to extinguish the fires. "An Italian battleship reached Messina to-day and landed seamen and soldiers, while troops are on the way from Catania and Naples."» (Mowbray, c1909, p.70).

« "Help is arriving constantly from Catania and Palermo by sea to relieve the thirst and famine. The whole Calabrian shore for a distance of nearly thirty miles was torn and twisted by the convulsions of the earth and sea. Neither bridges nor ferryboats exist, all having been destroyed." The town of Villa San Giovanni was destroyed, and Scilla, Pizzo and Bagnara shared its fate, in each case the havoc of the earthquake being completed by the outbreak of fire."» (Mowbray, id., p.72).

« Messina, while by far the greatest sufferer, was not the only city devastated. The gruesome roll of the dead elsewhere in the stricken region equalled, in the aggregate, if it did not exceed that of the city by the straits. Messina had more property loss than any other one point. More men, women and children's lives were ground out there than in any other city. But that was only because Messina was the most populous town in the stricken region —in that gory belt of death that stretched from the heart of the isle of Sicily northeastwards under the Straits of Messina and through the centre of Calabria, the most southerly of the provinces, or states, of the Kingdom of Italy. In Messina, horrible as was the disaster, one person in ten escaped the holocaust. In many of the smaller towns and villages within the range of many miles, not a human being lived to tell the tale when the sun rose on that memorable 28th day of December, 1908. Messina's prominence in the annals of the disaster is due more largely to the fact of its great size and reputation throughout the world than to the completeness of its destruction or to the proportionate loss of life. » (Mowbray, id., p.76).
« Next to Messina, the quaint and beautiful city of Reggio di Calabria was the greatest sufferer. This charming town, the capital of the province of Calabria, lay nestled at the water's edge on the mainland, some eight miles or so to the southeast and across the straits. When Messina collapsed, steamships hastily put out to cross the straits for help. Half way over they met scarred and battered ships from the other coast, carrying the news that Reggio, too, had perished. And that before the terrible tidal wave that dashed from the opposite Sicilian shores had engulfed the city and had buried beneath its foaming crest almost all of what had remained of the city's fifty thousand inhabitants. Reggio, before the shock, was a live and prosperous port, and one of the most ancient cities of Italy. It was embalmed in the annals of history long before the Christian era, when it bore the name of Rhegium. Previous shocks of earthquake, especially the great one of 1783, had left its scars upon the ancient palaces and the cathedral, but until that one terrible day in the Christmas week of 1908 it still nestled in fancied security at the foot of grim Montalto, which reared its vine-clad head almost five thousand feet towards the heavens to the back of the town. To-day, the city is in utter ruin, ruin as complete as that which wiped Messina off the map. Yes, worse ! For the tidal wave here swept over the entire town, so deep that the bodies of fish were found, after the death-dealing flood finally had receded, as high up as the third floors of a number of houses that were so sturdily built that their shells at least were able to defy not only earthquake, but flood and flame. The tidal wave that swept into Reggio flooded the city to a depth of many feet above sea level. Some of the houses along the water front were swept from their foundations and dragged out to sea. Twelve miles of the railroad near Reggio were destroyed. The tempest added to the terror of the scene. The few Reggio survivors wandered nude and demented about the ruins of the city searching for food. Practically all the pupils of the Reggio College perished. The little villas located on the heights alone escaped destruction. A group of travelers who were at the railroad station, awaiting the arrival of a train, were crushed under the debris of the building. All the railroad stations in a radius of twelve miles from Reggio were destroyed. The sea front was entirely swept away —so thoroughly undulated that for days seamen familiar with the coast from childhood could not recognize the place and believed that Reggio never had emerged from the waves. And yet there was much ground for this belief. The ruins of Reggio finally did emerge. But it was ruins only. For days it was impossible to approach the site by either sea or land. For a distance of twelve miles from the city, roads, bridges and footpaths were destroyed. Even the face of the country was changed. » (Mowbray, id., p.76-78).
© Koji Nihei Daijyo, 2017. All rights reserved.


Koji Nihei Daijyo

Author:Koji Nihei Daijyo
We have covered 143 quatrains (§588-§730) concerning the World Events in the 19th century after Napoleonic ages [1821-1900] in the Prophecies of Nostradamus, and 218 in the 20th [1901-2000] (§731-§948).

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