Wednesday 2 May 2012

St. Pierre Snake Invasion

Mount Pelee blows its top in May 1902 courtesy

Travel back to the year 1902 to an island in the Caribbean called Martinique and a small city called St. Pierre.  Montagne Pelee, or Bald Mountain, was a volcano about six kilometres north of the city which had sat dormant for years.  However, on April 23, Mount Pelee slowly awakened.  By May 2, white ash rained down on the mountainside, home to about 100 six-foot-long fer-de-lance snakes.  The serpents, growing hungry because the plant and wildlife on the mountain was dying off, slithered their way down the mountain into the city below where they killed 50 people and numerous animals.  The St. Pierre residents were only spared by the large street cats who started to eat the snakes.  However, by May 5, a landslide of boiling mud made its way down the mountain.  An earthquake followed causing a tsunami which flooded the streets of St. Pierre.  On May 8, Mount Pelee blew its top, reducing the city to a pile of rubble within three minutes.  The city burned for days afterwards and legend has it that only two of its 30,000 inhabitants survived.  The volcanic explosion remains the worst one of the 20th Century.

Remains of St. Pierre, Martinique in 1902 courtesy

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