THE VALPARAISO DISASTER

THE VALPARAISO DISASTER

The city of Valparaiso, Chile, with six or eight other cities and towns round about, including Santiago, the capital, has suffered very severely from an earthquake, which took place on the evening of August 18, and lasted for nearly one hour. There were three distinct shocks, which were clearly marked on the seismographs at the Weather Bureau, Washington, Albany, N. Y., and elsewhere. In Lima, the caoital of Peru, and other parts of that republic the shocks were felt. The Argentine Republic, also, was shaken, and three days afterwards the island of Martinique. These shocks, however, and those outside Chile in general were not so severe. In this instance no tidal wave accompanied the earthquake; but, as in the case of San Francisco, the city of Valparaiso was badly damaged and that of Santiago partially wrecked by a fire that immediately succeeded the earthquake. The loss of life has not been inconsiderable and that accruing from the earthquake and fire will run into a very high figure, so high as probably to exceed those of San Francisco. As yet, however, no definite estimate has been made either of the loss of life or of property. At Santiago not many persons appear to have perished, and the property loss is set down at $r,ooo.ooo more or less. The government has voted $100,000,000 to rebuild Valparaiso, where whole buildings have been ingulfed, among them the Administration building and the Victoria theatre, which have disappeared even to their foundations. Numbers of private residences have been destroyed by earthquake or fire or both. The losses in buildings will be much heavier than in San Francisco, as in Valparaiso and Santiago those destroyed were all of solid stone or brick work, specially built to resist the shocks of earthquakes. As a rule, they were from two to three stories high, anything beyond four stories being unknown. Frame buildings are practically not found in these cities. That the subsequent fire should have been so destructive would be a matter for surprise, were it not that, as at San Francisco, the water mains were either ruptured by the earthquake or so buried under the superincumbent weight of ruined buildings and other debris as to render it impossible for the firemen to reach them. The flames, therefore, had it all their own way and finally had to be extinguished—or, rather, choked out by the use of dynamite, which was freely and successfully employed on this occasion. Like the cities of Lima. Peru. Buenos Aires in the Argentine Republic, and others in the South American republics, the fire departments of Valparaiso, while good firefighters, are slow in getting out, owing to the lack of those facilities which are employed in the United States. Their engines, also all of the English make, are light and of comparatively small capacity. It must not be forgotten, however, that the buildings in these cities, being built to resist earthquake shocks, are all of a most solid and fire-resistant type and do not burn so rapidly as in our cities. A veryquick turnout, therefore, is not thought to be so necessary.

BIRDSEYE VIEW OF DAMAGED DISTRICT VALPARAISO.

FIRE AND WATER DEPARTMENTS OF VALPARAISO.

A former British resident in Chile, writes as follows: “The population of Valparaiso in 1901 was 133,000. It is the principal commercial entrepot on the South American coast. Its buildings, like those of Santiago, the capital, are chiefly of solid brick plastered over—‘partition construction’—and are nearly all three-stories in height. The fire brigade, composed of 1,000 men, is volunteer, and is thoroughly up to the mark. Several steamers all of British manufacture form part of the equipment. Automobile steamers, searchlights and other modern details are in vogue. Among the twenty-five companies into which the brigade is divided are English, German and Spanish companies, but all work harmoniously together and are well drilled and under complete discipline. The water supply is ample. Its source is springs distant about fifteen miles from the business centre of the city and 1.000 ft. above its level. The storage capacity of the reservoir is very large and is estimated sevenal hundred of millions of gallons. Santiago, which is situated far inland on a lofty plateau, is equally well protected against fire, and its buildings were supposed to resist ordinary earthquake shocks. Those of the other day, however, were of an extraordinary type, and the end may not yet be in SIGHT-JAMES RAYMOND, August 18, 1906.’’

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