Caracas Earthquake of 1812

The 1812 Caracas earthquake took place in Venezuela on March 26, 1812 (on Maundy Thursday) at 4:37 p.m. It measured 7.7 on the Richter magnitude scale.

It caused extensive damage in Caracas, La Guaira, Barquisimeto, San Felipe, and Mérida. An estimated 15,000-20,000 people perished as a result, in addition to incalculable material damage.

The seismic movement was so drastic that in a zone named Valecillo a new lake was formed and the river Yurubí was dammed up. Numerous rivulets changed their course in the valley of Caracas, which was flooded with dirty water.

Based on contemporary descriptions, the earthquake is believed to have consisted of two seismic shocks occurring within the span of 30 minutes. The first destroyed Caracas and the second Mérida, where it was raining when the shock occurred.

The weather was good and the air sober when between 4 and 5 pm a hollow noise like a din of a canon was heard, it was followed by a violent oscillating movement from west to east, it lasted 17 seconds and it stopped all the public clocks. The convolution diminished for some moments, but it was followed by an agitation more violent than the first one and lasted nearly 20 seconds, keeping the same direction. A calm followed during 14 seconds, after this a most alarming trepidation of the earth took place for 15 seconds. The total duration was one minute and 15 seconds.”

— Fransisco Fajardo

The amount of property destroyed and the number of lives lost in the recent earthquake is not yet known. Reports are still coming in to Caracas day by day, however, and many believe that when the truth is known the loss will be appalling.

The victims were at first said to be in the neighborhood of 10,000, and, though it may not prove as great as great that, the loss of life will doubtless be very heavy.