1693 Sicily earthquake | damage


Depiction of the earthquake in an engraving from 1696, possibly showing Catania
Ruins of the Norman castle in Noto Antica

January 9 foreshock

Despite the difficulty of separating the effects of this event from the mainshock, some information is available. This earthquake caused widespread damage, particularly in Augusta where almost half of the houses were destroyed. Most of the buildings in two districts of Avola collapsed and many buildings were also destroyed in Noto, Floridia, Lentini and Mellili. Some buildings collapsed in Catania, Vizzini and Sortini. There were an estimated 200 deaths in both Augusta and Noto.[5]

January 11 mainshock

The area of severe damage covered most of southeastern Sicily, an area of about 14,000 square kilometres (5,400 sq mi), including all the present provinces of Catania, Ragusa and Syracuse. At least 70 cities, towns and villages were devastated, with some examples of at least partial building collapse as far afield as Messina, Agrigento, Palermo, Reggio Calabria and Malta.[5]

The earthquake also triggered large landslides, such as at Noto Antica and Sortino, and in one case a large rock-slide dammed a stream, forming a lake a few kilometres long. Several large NW-SE trending fractures were created up to 500 metres (1,600 ft) long and 2 metres (6.6 ft) wide, on the plains just south of Catania. In the same area, sand volcanoes were formed by jets of water spurting as much as several metres into the air, with similar phenomena being reported from the Lentini plain and along some river valleys.[12]

At Augusta the tsunami damaged galleys of the Knights of Malta that were anchored in the harbour when they were grounded during the initial withdrawal of the sea.[5][12]

The number of deaths recorded at the time in official sources were about 12,000 in Catania (63% of the population), 5,045 in Ragusa (51%), 3,500 in Syracuse (23%) 3,000 in Noto (25%), 1,840 in Augusta (30%) and 3,400 in Modica (19%).[5] The total death toll in the same source was recorded as 54,000 with other sources referring to totals of about 60,000.[6] In 1853, Mallet recorded 93,000 deaths, in his catalogue of earthquakes.[3]

Other Languages