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VOLCANIC CATASTROPHE. I AVALANCHE OF FIRE, LAVA & ASHES. I A TOWN BURIED. I THOUSANDS PERISH. I The town of St. Pierre, in the French West Indian island of Martinique, oontaining a popu- lation of nearly 26,000, was totally destroyed on Thursday morning by a sudden eruption of Mount Pelee, a normally quiescent volcano 5,000 feet high, which overhangs the town, and which lately had been shewing signs of activity A gigantic train of fire, supposed to be molten lava and ashes, fell on the town and set it on fire. Nobody seems to have escaped save a few con- nected with the shipping in the harbour, which was all destroyed except the British ship Roddam. which, running the gauntlet, steamed outwards and escaped, sustaining much damage and losing a score of the crew killed and injured. "i 'h crew of the Roddam stato the disaster was "like a glinipse of hell, beggaring language." The total loss of life in Martinique is now esti- mated at 40,000—including the Governor. Very great consternation prevails in Paris. This volcanic visitation of the West Indies may prove far more terrible than is at present known. It is officially announced that the dread volcano of La Soufriere, in the British island of St. Vincent, was—as seen from the sea-in eruption on Wednesday, and the results are likeiy to prove most serious. Tht.1 Colonial Office on Saturday received the follow- ing from Sir F. Hodgson, Governor of Barbadoes :— Soufriere, St. Vincent erupted violently yesterday. Loud reports resembling artillery fire were heard at Barbadoes at three o'cloc k in afternoon. At five- in the evening darkness and thunder, accom- panied by a strong downpour of dust, continued till night time. I 40,000 PERSONS PERISH. It is now possible to form a fairly accurate estimate of the extent of the disaster which has befallen the French colony of Martinique in general, and its commercial capital, St. Pierre, in particular. Every telegram received shews that the catastrophe has been in no way exaggerated, and that to all intent3 and purposes St. Pierre has been annihilated, _1- J.1- 1 I Willi me vasx. majority or its mnaoitants. some estimates place the number of the dead as high as 40,000, but the exact truth probably will never be known. One telegram states that about 5,000 fugitives are collected on the hills around St. Pierre, but there is nothing to show whether these unfortunate people, who are being removed as quickly as possible, formed part of the population of that town, or had tied from their homes in the adjoining country. The bodies of the dead am being cremated. The stories told by eye- witnesses vary in details, but all agree in describing the terrible suddenness with which the avalanche of fire, lava, ashes, and stones overwhelmed the un- happy town. In five minutes, or less, the destruc- tion was wrought, so that there was no chance of flight, even had any secure place of refuge been available. Little doubt exists that the Governor of the Colony, M. Mouttet, and many of his officials perished, together with numerous representatives of French mercantile firms. A similar fate overtook the whale of the shipping in the harbour, which is said to have contained nearly a score of vessels, with the exception of the British steamer Roddam, and the safety of this boat appears to have been entirely due to the heroism of her commander, Captain Freeman. While three-fourths of his officers and crew lav around him dead or badly injured by the storm of flame that descended from the volcano, he, alone and unaided, steered his vessel out of the zone of danger, remaining at his post in spite of the serious burns he had himself sustained. With great promptitude the French Government is bestirring itself to render assistance to the stricken island, and a special messenger had left Brest with a first instal- ment of £ 20,(MX) for the aid of the sufferers. The American Government had also ordered two war vessels to proceed to Martinique to ascertain what help can be given. A bill authorising the President to afford this succour has been submitted to Congress and has passed the Senate. I COMPLETELY IN RUINS. I I STREETS STREWN WITH BODIES. I The King has sent a thousand pounds to Paris for the relief of the sufferers by the Martinique disaster. A letter of profound sympathy, accom- panied by ten thousand marks, has been sent by the German Emperor to President Loubet, and the Czar has telegraphed his sympathy, as well as that of the Czarina. The Italian Chamber on Monday voted a message of sympathy. Relief parties who have landed at St. Pierre report that the city is completely in ruins, and the streets strewn with bodies, no living thing being seen, and no water procurable. Subterranean rumblings- were still heard, and in the northern part of the Island the land was in a state of constant move- ment, the sea for a mile from the shore being covered with wreckage. The British administrator of Dominica. hears from Martinique that new craters are open in many directions, rivers aro overflowing their banks, and almost total darkness continues. The Governor of Barbados has sent food and medical help to the island. I ST. VINCENT ERUPTION. I I CRITICAL SITUATION. I I VEILED BY TIRE. I I A Central News telegram, dated New York, Thursday, says: -"The Journal's correspondent at Fort de France cables that crowds of distraught men, women and children block the streets, and every public place is filled with refugees. The sight of men crying and women in hysterics has become so common as to pass unnoticed. It is doubtful whether St. Pierre will ever be rebuilt. The situation at St. Vincent is veiled behind a wall of fire. An entire tribe of Caribs has been exterminated. There is intense suffering throughout the island. The streams are polluted with lava and people are dying of thirst. The oiffcers of the French vessel Suchet have endeavoured to approach the coast near Mount Pelee to ascertain whether another violent eruption is probable, but they are unable to get near the shore. Local scientists argue that the destruction of St. Pierre was too swift and too sudden to have been brought about by the agency of fire alone. They attribute the devastation to some unknown electric phe- nomena, the fire being only a supplementary agent. The Fort de France correspondent of the "World" says that the eruption of La Sou- friere at St. Vincent was vastly more extensive than the eruption at Martinique. During Thurs- day and Friday last the sea off the north coast of St. Vincent was a veritable boiling cauldron. Many of those who fled from the district for safety were killed by lightning. North of Kings- town there is no drinking water, all the stream-, being fouled by the outpourings of the volcano. Canoes. each containing two casks of drinking water, are being sent to the north of the s land, where numbers of refugees are collected. The sea is very rough, and the work is attended with great difficulty.



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