Second city of Sicily completely destroyed by awful disaster

United Press
Bodies of victims lie in Messina, Italy, after an earthquake struck the region December 28, 1908. File Photo by Luca Comerio/Wikimedia
Bodies of victims lie in Messina, Italy, after an earthquake struck the region December 28, 1908. File Photo by Luca Comerio/Wikimedia

ROME -- The complete destruction of Messina, the second city of Sicily, with a population of 150,000, was confirmed in an official message to the Italian government today.

The message expressed fear that Reggio, immediately across the Straits of Messina, has met a similar fate, and says that most of the towns on the strait have been wiped out. Between four and five thousand deaths have been accounted for by the army officers, who are in charge of the work of rescue. They say that the work of recovering bodies has scarcely begun, owing to the necessity of digging into the great piles of debris. Some officers estimate the total dead at thirty thousand. It is believed here that these figures are greatly exaggerated.


The seismic apparatus in Rome was broken by the force of the shock. Messages say that the earthquake seemed to have been upward in its movement and had an effect of hurling buildings into the air.

The sides of mountains were thus turned into land slides. The death among sailers will reach into hundreds.

Prisoners go free

Practically all the prisoners in scores of jails were liberated either by the destruction of jails or in the confusion that followed the earthquake. No news has been received from ten torpedo boats which were moored at Messina and probably were sunk. Destruction by tidal wave at Catania was almost as severe as at Messina. Everything along the shore was wrecked and shipping was completely destroyed. The loss of life at Catania however was very slight. Nothing has been heard from the Lipari Islands and as they were in the line of disturbance it is feared great havoc was wrought.


The destruction of Messina was due in greater part to tidal wave than to the earthquake according to a train load of refugees who arrived at Catania from Messina this morning. Gigantic waves overwhelmed the city and completed its ruin. Part of the city literally dropped into the sea. Refugees say that the number of dead officially given at eighteen hundred is far too small and should be twelve thousand. The Hotel Trinacria which had ninety guests, the town hall, the bourse, the telegraph office, postoffice and barracks were destroyed.

Dying from exposure

In addition to an enormous death roll resulting from the shocks and tidal wave, there is sure to be an army of fatalities from exposure and starvation. Thousands of half naked, starving and shelterless refugees now swarm the country districts around the stricken towns.

Put figure at 75,000

ROME -- In its late edition today the Tribune here estimates the number of earthquake victims at between 65,000 and 75,000 dead and twice that many injured or in want or suffering from exposure.

12,000 dead in Messina

PALERMO, Sicily -- Twelve thousand people are dead in Messina according to the latest reports from that city. It is feared that hundreds of inhabitants are still alive under ruins and are doomed to perish in flames that are sweeping what is left of the city. Signs of volcanic activity was noticed today in Mount Aetna and it is feared an eruption in imminent.


Roosevelt sends message

WASHINGTON -- President Roosevelt sent cable of condolence to King Victor Emanuel of Italy today expressing his sympathy.

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