28 December 1908: Earthquake in Messina

(To Marina Militare)

Monday - At 05.21 a series of seismic shocks lasting 37 "of the intensity that reaches the 10 ° of the Mercalli scale is produced on the Sicilian and Calabrian slopes of the Strait of Messina with devastating effects that radically ground Messina (only 2% of the buildings is not damaged), they cause very serious damage to Reggio Calabria and small towns on both sides. Complete the work a tidal wave with waves from 6 to 12 m sweeping, beaches, banks and docks. It is one of the most violent and catastrophic earthquakes in history: 80.000 victims in Messina (57% of the population) and 15.000 in Reggio Calabria (just over 33% of the population).

The participation of the Italian Navy will be fundamental especially for communications and for the mass transport of everything needed in the rescue operations. 48 units (six battleships, two armored cruisers, three torpedo boats, three torpedo cruisers, five destroyers, 15 torpedo boats, 14 auxiliary ships and local use) were deployed with 6788 military: a remarkable effort considering the Christmas holiday season surprised ships and organization with about a third of licensed personnel and yet with this succeeding in giving immediate response to the national emergency with the availability of 12 naval units within the first 24 hours from the earthquake. Lastly, the official 78s, non-commissioned officers and sailors of the Messina base and units are among the victims of the earthquake, dead or buried in the rubble.

[It should not be forgotten that the active work of various foreign marines will be seen in the relief work; first of all the Russian one (first among all the rescuers to enter independently in activity and to which, in February 2006, a commemorative plaque was dedicated by the mayor of Messina in recognition of the completed work) and followed by the German one, English is French]