Earthquake in Andalusia in 1884

Earthquake is a common natural phenomenon that occurs due to the movement of tectonic plates, the appearance of impact or the movement of the Earth’s crust. Earthquakes can occur naturally or as a result of human activity (explosions, nuclear tests). Although the largest number of earthquakes of low intensity occur on small pinnacles or at the bottom of the ocean, earthquakes can be extremely intense and devastating, which is generally considered to be one of the most terrible natural disasters. That kind of terrible earthquake struck Andalusia on Christmas in 1884. It was a more horrific earthquake in the history of Andalusia that took many lives and inflicted a lot of material damage.

Christmas, just like every year in Andalusia, began cheerfully, and it was not even announced that it would mark the catastrophe of enormous proportions at the end of the holiday. The elderly were preparing a holiday table, the children were looking forward to gifts. Everything was christened with a holiday spirit and mood and the day went into joy. Christmas was supposed to be the happiest and most beautiful day of the year when the family is gathering together and celebrating the holiday together. However, the holiday mood was abruptly stopped when the large building began to vibrate. Eight minutes after nine o’clock in the evening, Ventas de Zafarraya Fault vibrated for about 20 seconds and it was the beginning of a disaster that hit Andalusia on Christmas in 1884. (McDonald, 2010) The epicenter of the quake was south of the central region of Sierra de Tejeda, and the total damage was on the surface almost recently 6400 Km2.

About the damage, the 29th first reported to El Defensor de Granada. However, the poor communication and the isolation of the affected villages delayed his departure so that Madrid only later became acquainted with the events in Andalusia. At first, the Madridians thought it was about the Andalusian preterm and the exaggeration of the events, so they sent the correspondents only on January 8th. In the meantime, the population of Andalusia was confronted with the terrible consequences of the earthquake. Those who became homeless, traumatized and injured by the earthquake, were left to the local resources. Winter that year, unluckily, was the coldest by then, so many injured people quickly succumbed to injuries. (

All villages and towns in Andalusia suffered a damage. The total number of reported deaths ranged from 750 to 900, more than 1800 were injured and 14,000 houses were destroyed. The village of Albuñuelas suffered perhaps the worst damage. The cities Canillas de Albaida and Cómpeta. Out of a total of 1640 inhabitants, the number of people in the village, 200 people died and 500 were injured. Near Zafarraia after the earthquake, large holes were opened, while in the west, in the Plaza de la Victoria, the earthquake damaged many large buildings. In the northwest of Sierra Tejed, in Perian, 57 deaths have been reported.

The first external aid that came to Andalusia was organized by El Defensor de Granada, and when the outside world became aware of the size of the disaster, many magazines began to form funds to help the victims. Soon came the help from the national level, first from Córdoba and then to Seville, and the construction of wooden cabins for the inhabitants of Albuñuelas began. In April 1885, an international aid fund was established, which together with the national fund had collected 6,455,985 Pesetas (Euro equivalent of 38,801). (Casado et al.)

Although the earthquake in Andalusia from 1884 is largely remembered by the fact that it caused a great catastrophe that took many lives, it can be said that people certainly learned at least one lesson. The houses began to be made with a maximum of two floors and with no more than nine and a half meters in height, and the streets had to be at least 10 meters wide. Today’s buildings, that is, the buildings are constructed to withstand a strong earthquake that, according to estimates, is unlikely to happen in the next 100 years.