1, 1755: Lisbon, Portugal
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enormous earthquake of 1775 occurred on
All Saint’s Day, November 1, at about 10 A.M.
It lasted between 6 and 10 minutes and is estimated
to have had a Richter magnitude of at least 8.75.
That was one of the largest earthquakes ever documented,
devastated southern Portugal and Northwest Africa.
Lisbon, a city of 275,000 inhabitants situated 13
kilometers upstream in the Tagus River, was heavily
damaged by the earthquake and consumed by fires. As
fires ignited by overturned candles ravage the city,
survivors moved down to the city’s docks. Some
even boarded boats moored in the Tagus River. Between
40 or 60 minutes after the earthquake the water withdrew
from the harbor, an a few minutes later a great wave
of 15 meters high came roaring in, penetrating over
half a mile into the city, rushing up streets and
inundating houses. Bridges were broken, walls overturned,
and great piles of debris swept away and carried offshore.
Two other waves subsequently rolled in to the city
an hour apart. The tsunami also caused widespread
destruction along the coastline of Portugal, where
it swept inland up to 2.5km. At Porto Novo, north
of Lisbon, run-up was 20 meters high, while at Alvor
and Sagres on the southwest tip of Portugal it reached
30m above sea level. The waves had its greatest impact
in southern Portugal. The tsunami also caused widespread
devastation in Southwest Spain and Western Morocco,
as well as crossing the Atlantic Ocean and sweeping
islands in the Caribbean 5,700 km away.
of the tsunami