Daily Event for May 8, 2005

May 8, 1902: On the island of Martinique, Mt. Pelée had been erupting for several weeks. Ships continued to come to the harbor near the town of St. Pierre, mostly I guess to evacuate people on the island. About 35,000 of the islands inhabitants had left before May 8th. Three ships are identified as being in the harbor that morning. Two British steamships, Roraima and Roddam and a cable ship named Grappler, nobody was prepared for what was about to happen.

Between 7 and 8 am the volcano exploded. A devastating prelatic flow of ash, rock and fire came down the volcano at about 100 mph. It eliminated the town of St. Pierre and killed an estimated 30,000 people. (There were only 2 survivors reported) With nothing to slow it down the fireball crossed into the harbor. The Grappler capsized and sank immediately. The French sailing vessel Tamaya, the Italian sailing vessel Taresa Lovico and over a dozen other ships in the harbor were sunk immediately.

Roraima was picked up out of the water throwing all on board off their feet. The ship caught fire and sank stern first the next day. I don't know how many passengers were on board, but there were only two survivors. (A young girl and her nurse) 19 of the 47 crew were killed.

The Roddam was the only ship to make it out of the harbor. Capt. Freeman, while badly burned managed to find some of the crew and sailed the Roddam to St. Lucia. The Roddam is said to have lost 18. The eruption on Martinique leveled an area of eight square miles.
© 2005 Michael W. Pocock
MaritimeQuest.com


"Sailing toward destiny" portrait of Roraima by Michel Guyot.
(Image courtesy of Michel Guyot)
© 2014 Michel Guyot all rights reserved



Portrait of the sailing vessel Tamaya passing Diamond Rock, Martinique.
(Image courtesy of Michel Guyot)
© 2014 Michel Guyot all rights reserved



Portrait of Roraima in St. Pierre harbor, Martinique just before the eruption.
(Image courtesy of Michel Guyot)
© 2013 Michel Guyot all rights reserved



May 8, 1902: The Eruption of Mt. Pelée.


"Last Moments of the Roraima" by Michel Guyot.
(Image courtesy of Michel Guyot)
© 2014 Michel Guyot all rights reserved