In December 1908, southern Italy had been rocked by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the Strait of Messina followed by forty-foot tidal waves. The Messina earthquake was the most destructive in European history, with a death toll in Italy reaching according to some estimates as many as 200,000.
British journalist Laurence Jerrold wrote in 1910, "I felt for a moment as if I were landing again from the boat in Messina Harbour, four days after the earthquake." Surrounded by the flood's devastation, with his heart pounding and mouth agape, Messina was the only event he could imagine that could help him comprehend the scene now before his eyes in Paris.
Messina after the earthquake
Paris after the flood